"You’re following him on Twitter? That’s weird, honey."

The conversation went something like this:

It’s storming pretty hard in Salt Lake. Power’s out, rain is falling sideways.

How do you know,” asks my wife as she brushes her teeth, getting ready to call it a day.

Well, you know Twitter? One of the guys I follow on Twitter just posted about how he’s stuck in his car on the side of the freeway.” I pause. “I guess ‘follow’ isn’t really the right word”.

She looks at me as if I’m not the same person she married. “It's 10 o'clock at night, you know what he’s doing. You’re following him.
Even I know that Twitter’s weird. That’s why I don’t expect everyone to understand it. I certainly don’t expect everybody to use it and am kind of glad that many people don’t. Can you imagine a person in prison using Twitter? (Tweet 1: Staring at wall. Tweet 2: Staring at wall, still.) Nevertheless, when my own wife accuses me of being a stalker (speaking of prison), I start to question what I’m really doing.

So I’ll ask the question again, this time with a better idea of my answer.

What in the Web 2.0 is Twitter?

Because if Twitter is nothing more than a huge stalk-fest, then I think I’ll pass. Five hundred sixteen “tweets” later however, I’m convinced that it’s nothing of the sort.

I'm convinced that Twitter is about community. Twitter is about people. Twitter is about the network. Here's an example of what I mean:

[Translation: SL = Second Life user name, RL = Real Life user name]

So Twitter's ability to connect me with a network of like-minded people is huge. However, there's more to it than just the network. Take "the news" as another example. I’ve noticed a strange thing happen to "the news" as I have used Twitter. With Twitter, the news has added meaning for me. Like when I learned about the steam explosion that happened in New York a few weeks ago. It brought the news home to me knowing that one of my colleagues was so close to the actual event.

To continue, remember the rain storm I referred to in the beginning of this post? I could have watched the news (like normal people) to see that a storm was making its way across the Wasatch Front. I would have learned the facts and been able to prepare for the inevitable. However, seeing that Thom (a person whose Twitter tweets I follow) was stuck in the storm, sitting in his car on the side of the freeway because of the storm, I immediately understood what kind of storm I would probably be dealing with.

Furthermore, because I “know” Thom (through his tweets), I now have an emotional tie to the news that I once only watched.
“So that's Twitter, honey. Weird? Yes. But that's just the way I like it.”
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Why Every Teacher Should Blog - Reason #8

The folks at TTIX (Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange) inform me that the video from this year's conference has been posted here. I had the honor and privilege of giving the keynote address in June, a first for me. In reflecting further on the experience, I am reminded that I had intended to say many more things than I had actually managed to say. I'm sure many teachers have also experienced this in their classrooms.

Reason #8 - Blogging allows you to finish what you had originally intended to say.

Let me say up front that I had originally wanted to go a lot faster than I actually went. Nevertheless, the flow was smooth and I still felt that I had the audience from the beginning. It really was a refreshing experience.

But I missed the sale, the close, the final touches. I got to slide 307 (or so) of 405 (I had to take out the poem above in order to upload the presentation to SlideShare). Yep, only 3/4 through. If I had to do it over again, I'd make sure to mention:
  • The results of my informal assessment of cellphone use throughout Utah - roughly 85% of all urban and rural high school students in Utah have access to a cellphone.
  • Ithaca College and their Cellflix Film Festival - what an amazing way to use cellphones to teach.
  • Ms. Bradfield and her class's travel bugs - one has traveled nearly 19,000 miles. Imagine the conversations.
  • Matthew Horne and the amazing things he's done with his ESL students - I'm sure that blogging and postcasting are just the beginning.
  • Kevin Honeycutt and one of my favorite quotes regarding teachers and our relationship to our students: "We've got to be willing to play where they play... even if we don't feel comfortable."
  • Darren Kuropatwa and the great way he uses Flickr with his math students.
  • One of the most powerful comments I have heard about the Pay Attention video. This was given by a student:

“This is a great video. As a tenth grader, almost everything in the video applies to me – I have a phone (which really doubles as a GPS), I have an MP3 player, I have a computer. The lack of application of technology in many schools is appaling.”

  • Finally, I would have told the audience about my cheesy poem - created specifically to close the presentation:
“If I Were You” By Darren Draper
If I were you, what would I do?
I’d use YouTube, del.icio.us, and Flickr, too.
To teach my students about somethidng new.

If I were you, what would I do?
I’d use Google Tools – indeed the whole slew.
Google Earth, Docs, and Trends to name just a few.
Yep, teach kids to learn, even when the day’s through.

If I were you, what would I do?
I’d make my kids podcast, ‘til their faces were blue.
And then we would post them to the new iTunes U.

If I were you, what would I do?
I’d share with the world, yep honest and true.
Yeah, I’d be much more open and creative and common.
And when I was done, I would eat some Top Ramen.

If I were you, what would I do?
I’d pay more attention to what the kids do.
I’d learn how they learn in order to teach
Them things they should know without haffin’ to preach.
Anyway, that's what I would have said if I would have had the time. And that's why I'm glad that I blog.
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The Conversation We Call 'Blogging'

Thank you, Teacher.

Thank you for the many things you have taught me. Thank you for your guidance and words of wisdom concerning teaching, learning, technology, and education. Thank you for your insights, as the views you've shared from your corner of the world have shaped how I see mine. Whether you've known it or not, you've helped me to understand better what it means to live in our rapidly flattening world. You've taught me that we're all in this together.

So I thank you.

As I've learned (and am learning) about what it means to communicate in this world we call cyberspace, I am increasingly cognizant of the different ways that bloggers converse. These are three observations I have made:

  • First, some bloggers don't communicate with others (or they save their communication for the worthy few). Their conversations are a one-way street, flowing directly from brains to their fingertips, to the words that make up their blogs.
  • Second, some bloggers visit the blogs of others, commenting and participating in the discussions of others. These bloggers seem to both give and take.
  • Finally, there is a conversation that takes place among bloggers simply through an elaborate dance of cross-linking. This type of conversation is very interesting to me as it seems to provide genuine communication, both direct and indirect.
As I consider YOU to be my teacher (in one form or another), I'm genuinely interested in why you do what you do. What makes you write what you write, for some or for none or for many to read? Yep, why do you expose your thoughts to criticism, to ridicule, and to praise?

In short, why do YOU blog and what have you learned by participating in this worldwide community?

Please take the time to answer my inquiry (either directly or indirectly) in a post on your blog or in a comment on mine. I'll be watching and waiting, waiting and watching, and will post the results of this quest in a few weeks time.

Thank you, again, for being my teacher and participating in the conversation.

P.S. If I have failed to link to you above, it doesn't mean that I'm not interested in your opinion yet. It most likely means that I simply don't know I'm interested in your opinion yet - please participate, giving me a chance to get to know you better.

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Reflections On Our Busy World

I must admit: it's better to be busy than bored. The last couple of days have certainly been eventful. Here's a quick recap, not for the purpose of boring you with the details of my pathetic life, but to show you the possibilities that are available to teachers everywhere in a connected, digital world.

  • I gave a presentation yesterday [Utah, USA] in my Theoretical Perspectives on Whiteness Theory graduate class. The presentation discussed Pamela Perry's ethnography entitled Shades of White. I decided to use a blog to allow my classmates to reflect on their own identities, the professor was impressed, then asked me to teach the class how to blog. I guess if you're going to take a class, you'd might as well teach it - at least then you can talk about things that you're interested in. More about the blog: I had the students post to the blog via email ("Mail-to-Blogger-Address") so each of the posts appears to have come from me - a small price for the quick, less than ten minute setup time.
  • As a result of yesterday's class, I taught my fellow cohort members [Utah, USA] how to blog today. I also gave them a quick rundown of Gmail and Google Docs. I may have left a few rocks in the dust (sorry, David Jakes [Illinois, USA]), but I think several class members will actually continue to blog.
  • For my other doctoral studies [Utah, USA], I was able to read 14 articles, skim one book, write two papers, finish one reference sheet (including citations), and begin my final paper - all in two days (phew).
  • I was able to communicate more about EduBloggerWorld with Julie Lindsay [Sydney, Australia], Steve Hargadon [California, USA], and Vicki Davis [Georgia, USA]. Through email we were able to solidify several key ideas about the nature and purpose of EduBloggerWorld [Earth]. Details are forthcoming.
  • I was able to "attend" a portion of a book chat in Second Life [Blogger's Cafe, SL, Virtual Earth] about the popular book Cult of the Amateur. The discussion was extremely thought-provoking, as Ryan "Ex" Bretag [Illinois, USA] was very well prepared with several cutting questions.
  • As Second Life was giving me a few Linux [Geekdom, Planet Ubuntu] fits, I dropped in on the WOW2 discussion on Internet safety. It was great to be a part of the discussion and I was glad to not be the only male present. Jason Hando [Sydney, Australia] also joined in on the cat-blog-referencing fun.
  • I received two, count 'em, two kudos on Twitter yesterday: one from mobileminded - congratulating me on my recent blog posts (hopefully this post won't disappoint) and the other from jmaklary kudo-ing me for being willing to promulgate the ed-tech gospel. By the way, mobileminded is Brian C. Smith [New York, USA] and jmaklary is John Maklary [Texas, It's Own Country, USA].
  • I stumbled upon the coolest blog I've ever seen: All About Abby. With Karl Fisch [Colorado, USA], I invite you to welcome aboard an exciting new blogger [Colorado, USA]. While there, be sure to check out the dozens of comments she is deservedly receiving. Very cool stuff.
  • Finally (and on a personal note), the highlight of it all was when I was able to Skype video-chat with my family, causing my youngest kids to cry. You would have cried too, if you had seen the video quality.
I told you it's been busy around here.

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Blogging, Creativity, and the Next Tipping Point

I recently gave two presentations for a graduate class I am taking: Diffusion of Innovations. During the first presentation, I discussed creativity and my theory about how we are on the verge of a creative tipping point. Spurred by an increase in the use of Creative Commons licensing and other recent innovations, I think that YouTube's 65,000 uploads per day are just the beginning.

In the second presentation, I discussed the blog as an innovation that has been quickly diffused throughout our world.

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“We’re at the very beginning of a huge shift.”

David Warlick led a session during EduBloggerCon 2007 that was extremely enlightening and by now, landmark. As a result of the enthusiasm felt in that session and subsequent relationships that were formed following that initial introduction, I have been reflecting further on the read/write web and its implications for the future of education.

To begin Mr. Warlick’s session he asked a simple question: “What is working?” Answers varied from brief one-word answers to elaborate descriptions of effective practice. I took fairly comprehensive notes during the session that I have yet to publish. As the content was very thought-provoking, I felt that it would be helpful for all to benefit from the discussion we had. My notes follow.

What is working:

  • Wikis – An example of this is the EduBloggerCon wiki. This entire event was planned thereon.
  • Online collaboration – School systems are getting together and sharing resources. –Diane Hammond
  • Because of new Web 2.0 tools, students and teachers are progressing toward a new learning environment –David Jakes
  • Students can show competence.
  • Digital cameras, interactive whiteboards – Teachers are starting to engage.
  • “The digital camera is the gateway drug [of educational technology].” –Mark Wagner
  • “What should the classroom of today look like?” –Steve Dembo
  • The classroom of today is a tandem classroom, paired with another classroom of another culture. –Hence the need for increased community (like EduBloggerWorld).
  • “It’s all about connections.” –Vicki Davis
  • “Start where you’re comfortable.” –Vicki Davis
  • “I have some students that - what goes on in schools stays in schools.”
  • “Now that we have all of this data on our students, what is there in the long tail for education?” –Doug Johnson
  • “The school of the future doesn’t concentrate on tools – because the tools are constantly changing. The school of the future concentrates on the learning.” –Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
  • “Kids need to know how to choose which tool – because there are so many…” –Scott Merrick
  • “Smart classrooms have to be more than just the hardware – it’s a philosophical change about what happens with the tools in the classroom.” –Jeff Utecht
  • “We’re at the very beginning of a huge shift.”
  • “The smart classroom is the classroom that becomes a conduit for connections.
  • “In the smart classroom, the technology’s not integrated, it’s integral.” –David Jakes
  • “Social networking is going to be an integral part of the school of the future.” –David Warlick
  • Should it be called “Student Networking” instead of “Social Networking”? –Vicki Davis
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Pay Attention - On A Global Level

Exciting things are happening out there. Very exciting things.

Those of you that attended this year's EduBloggerCon "un-conference" in June remember that it was an amazing way to begin this year's NECC. Because not all bloggers were able to attend EduBloggerCon, we have created EduBloggerWorld - a Ning social network designed to facilitate connections and community for educational bloggers worldwide, serving as a first step toward future virtual events similar to EduBloggerCon.

Less than a week old, EdubloggerWorld is growing rather quickly (over 100 members in less than 5 days - with no formal advertising). Comparatively, there are more EduBloggerWorld members now (115) than there were attendees of EduBloggerCon (104) in Atlanta. Interestingly, communities within the community have also sprung up - with the creation of several groups including a Spanish bloggers group that has written several posts to the community in Spanish.

On behalf of Steve Hargadon, Julie Lindsay, and Vicki Davis, I write inviting you to join us (http://www.edubloggerworld.com/). We think this is an important step in embracing the international culture of a flattening world and an excellent way to pay attention to the world around us.

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Submissions Requested

The Innovate journal of online education is accepting article submissions for an upcoming special issue. This special issue will focus on trends, pressures, and evolutions shaping the future of education in all its forms, with particular consideration of the role of information technologies in creating that future.

Whatever the future holds for education, it is clear that information technologies will play a role. The creative use of information technology can enhance education processes, enabling educators to meet new challenges and reshape education's role in society. The technologies of education, and the use of technology in education, are both drivers of change and indicators of future directions.

According to James Morrison (Innovate Editor-In-Chief), submissions for this special issue may address, but are not limited to, these key issues:

  1. What does the "rise of the amateur" in media, music, and news industries suggest for education providers of the future?
  2. What is the role of universities and colleges when the world's information is at the fingertips of learners, without the mediation of experts? Or when experts make those resources freely available through MIT's OpenCourseWare or Open University’s OpenLearn?
  3. Is a copyright system designed to protect physical objects—books, magazines, and journals—capable of serving the digital knowledge needs of the next generation?
  4. How can technological tools be used by developed countries to assist emerging countries in educating their people?
  5. How should governance and leadership be structured in educational institutions facing exponential change?
  6. Are existing research agendas and methodologies capable of answering the knowledge needs of the next generation?
  7. Do our existing theories of learning reflect how digital natives learn in the information age?
If you would like to submit a manuscript on this topic, please send it to the guest editor of this issue, George Siemans (gsiemens@elearnspace.org) and to James Morrison (jlm@nova.edu) no later than October 15, 2007.
Quick Editorial Comment - It seems to me that people interested in getting together to discuss The Cult of the Amateur should put their discussion to use. In my humble opinion, they should employ Google Docs (or create a page on the wiki) to write a joint paper that addresses the issues of topic 1 (above). You know, put this brain power toward an addition to the literature (Innovate is as close to an online peer-reviewed journal as you're going to get). It would truly be refreshing to see more bloggers contribute to the bulk of scholarly literature.
Image Source - 1 (Thanks, Wes)

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Are You A Change Agent?

A change agent, or agent of change, is someone who intentionally or indirectly causes or accelerates social, cultural, or behavioral change. Everett Rogers (2003) expounds on this definition with several key points (p. 27). He also identifies “seven roles for the change agent in the process of introducing an innovation in a client system” (p. 369). In the brief analysis that follows, I will identify and reflect upon my role as a change agent (in connection with my position as a Technology Curriculum Specialist), using the roles Rogers’ has identified as a guide.

  1. A change agent often initially helps clients become aware of the need to alter their behavior. Probably the most difficult aspect of my job, I am constantly implementing new techniques to help teachers understand the many benefits of implementing technology throughout their teaching. In fact, this is the very reason I created the Pay Attention motivational presentation.
  2. Once a need for change is created, a change agent must develop rapport with his or her clients. I have found that it is not until a teacher trusts me that I am able to help them use technology. While humor can be a good door opener, I’ve found the most success in gaining “client” confidence by showing teachers that technology is not meant to replace the many great things that they are currently doing with their students. Rather, technology works best as an enhancement to lessons and activities that have already proven to be effective.
  3. The change agent is responsible for analyzing clients’ problems in order to determine why existing alternatives do not meet their needs. In identifying the problems that teachers have in delivering engaging instruction (poor student retention, boredom, etc.), I am able to suggest alternative instructional methods that incorporate technology in exciting and effective ways.
  4. The change agent seeks to motivate their clients’ interests in the innovation. I provide such motivation in the form of follow-up. It has been my experience that professional development without follow-up is a futile effort.
  5. A change agent seeks to influence clients’ behavior change in accordance with recommendations based on the clients’ needs. Please see number two above.
  6. Change agents may effectively stabilize new behavior through reinforcing messages to clients who have adopted, thus helping to “freeze” the new behavior. Please see number four above.
  7. The end goal for a change agent is to develop self-renewing behavior on the part of clients. My job is not complete until the teachers with whom I work no longer need me. At that point, they can fully and confidently implement a wide array of technology throughout their curriculum. As technology is never stagnant, this role ensures that I will have job security for many years to come.
In conclusion (and upon reviewing the roles of the change agent as have been identified above), it is evident that my role as a Technology Curriculum Specialist can easily be summarized as that of a change agent. Now if only more teachers were eagerly willing to change.

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Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.

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The EduBloggerCon Community - Diversifying

Well it's official. Or as official as any "un-conference" can be.

I just finished a chat session with three of the smartest people I've entered a Google Talk session with. Alright, it was my first time using Google Talk, but they are pretty smart.

Julie Lindsay, Steve Hargadon, Vicki Davis, and I discussed a few of the formalities surrounding an international version of EduBloggerCon. In our discussion, we decided it would be best to allow for asynchronous communication - accompanied by occasional "live" sessions - dates and methods to be determined later. What's the name of all this madness, you ask?

EduBloggerWorld - coming to a Ning near you. Steve has done an excellent job in creating an online community in which we can all participate - the official URL of which is http://www.edubloggerworld.com/. It is our hope that this site will serve as the home and planning location for future, international versions of EduBloggerCon.

There's no turning back now.

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The EduBlogger Community - Not Extremely Diverse, Are We?

Do not enter, snowy heron, in the valley where the crows are quarreling.
Such angry crows are envious of your whiteness,
And I fear that they will soil the body you have washed in the pure stream.
- Korean poem
Wow. Vicki Carter’s (1998) article on computer-assisted racism was very moving and extremely personal. A computer geek by trade, I have been using the Internet and related technologies far before they were considered “cool” by mainstream opinion. As a result, I can identify with many users’ thoughts of intrusion by the recent surge of technological newbies:
In fact, many veteran users of the Internet and technology are already bemoaning the fact that great masses of the networking ‘unwashed’ – both White and non-white – are invading their pure stream… the Internet elite are now having ‘to contend with the flood of newbies onto their previously comfy Internet’, resulting in ‘an exodus of the more knowledgeable folks to other areas’, different, quieter, undefiled, and more pristine spaces to build anew. (p. 273)
Nevertheless, as a self-proclaimed “educational technology” evangelist, I have learned to love the neophytes (if not tolerate them) as I feel it my duty to bring new teachers and students on-board in learning new ways to use technology and the Internet to teach and to learn.

A second idea presented by Carter (1998) that I find intriguing, especially in light of the kind of cultural community that has been created by EduBloggers around the world relates to what she terms as “cyber-whiteness” (p. 275).
Computers and networks in a postmodern world cross boarders that traditional technologies, disciplines, and practices do not… [They] become doorways to cyberspace and to cyber-whiteness as well. They are the metaphorical thresholds to cyberspace’s elite white territories, places of privilege, and “New Age weekend getaways for higher consciousness” (Hess, 1995, 116). Cyberspace is a comfortable place to be White because of its normative cultural practices. (p. 275)
I mean, consider for a moment the number of non-white bloggers that you know. Finished counting? That’s what I thought - in spite of the fact that there are more blogs written in Japanese than in English. Using my list of educational technology “leaders o’ the blogosphere”, I needed only one hand to count the number of non-white bloggers whose writings I frequent.

I always knew that the community we call the “EduBlogosphere” felt cozy. Now I better understand why. I also better understand why so many accuse the blogosphere of sounding like an echo chamber – it has been probably due (in part) to our community’s homogeneity.

Carter’s (1998) conclusion is perfect:
Educators and cultural workers must become “critical friends” willing to contest and erase the boundaries imposed by disciplines and special interests so that the valleys, landscapes, and pure streams in the terrain of cyberspace do not remain unexamined domains, reproducing injustices of race, class, and gender inscribed by the purity of whiteness. (p. 282)
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Carter, V. K. (1998). Computer-assisted racism. In J. Kinchelow, S. Steinberg, N. Rodriguez & R. Chennault, White Reign -- Deploying Whiteness in America, 270-283. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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The iPhone, The Haves, And The Have Nots

Disclaimer: I have written this post with no intentions to offend, nor to appear as "holier than thou". Some issues, while difficult to discuss, are of such importance that they can not, should not be avoided.
It appears I may have struck a chord with my last post in revealing my feelings about Apple's latest contribution to our society's need for technological bling. Because of comments made, both on the blog and off, I feel the need for further discussion. While one the reasons I will not be purchasing an iPhone is its hefty price tag, there are other reasons, far more subtle, that I would like to explore here.

First, let me say that there are some people that probably do, in actuality, deserve to own an iPhone. It would be a shame, for example, if Tony Vincent (the king of mobile devices) didn't have an iPhone to use, to understand, and to aid in explaining to others its educational uses and intricacies. Indeed, I can personally think of no one more qualified than Tony to use such a fine piece of technology (other than, perhaps, Steve Jobs himself), as he is a veritable mobile device connoisseur. Of most other's justified entitlement, however, I have serious doubts.

Take the business executive, the politician, or even the school administrator (the Haves) - are these people any more deserving of such an expensive device (simply because they can afford it) than any of their subordinates? While I, as a high school principal may actually feel entitled to such a luxury, I am no more deserving than any one of the teachers at my school, or the students, or the custodians, for that matter (the Have Nots). Furthermore, I am no more meritorious than the child, crying for hunger in one of those far corners of the world I have chosen to forget.

That's right. Call it extreme, but I see the iPhone as little more than an additional symbol of privilege.

Now, don't get me wrong: I love technology and believe that if you're not using technology to teach, then you should be. Nevertheless, the cost of such use is tremendous and should be greatly weighed against other priorities. Furthermore, as Americans and citizens of privilege (yes, if you're reading this blog then you probably fit into this category - American or not) we need to do a much better job of distributing our wealth and watching out for the little guy.

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My Take On The iPhone

Enough already. I know it's super iCool. I realize it will let you look up maps to closest iPlace you can order iCalamari, while you're watching iPirates.

But the iPhone's outrageous iPrice has kept me from ever buying this beauty. And I even have (and prefer using) a Mac.

Forgive me for not falling for it, but is any phone really worth $2,000? That's right: two grand - American. By my calculations, it's going to cost every iPhool that buys an iPhone at least $2,000 for the first two iYears - and that's for the cheapest plan (a measly 450 minutes a month!). You can buy a lot of textbooks for that kind of money. Er, you can buy SOME textbooks for that kind of money. Or calculators. Or $100 laptops. Or even cell phones!

Nevertheless, the iPhone would make a fabulous learning tool. I would absolutely love to have my students do a math assignment using maps, GPS, and the cheapest price for calamari (all with photos taken by the students, of course, uploaded to Flickr on the fly). Let's keep it real, though. With the iPhone's outrageous price, it just doesn't add up.

Perhaps that's why we don't see this very often as our students line the halls to enter our iClassrooms.

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Addicted To Blog?

I guess I'll confess something that my wife could have told you a few weeks ago. I think I'm addicted.

77%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Not that I blog every day or even read blogs daily. I just like the way blogging forces me to think.

Why Every Teacher Should Blog - Reason #7

Graham has done it again. He's gone off, spreading his pie-in-the-sky ideas about how there is actually life outside of the United States. He's even got the nerve to suggest that his thoughts (as well as the thoughts of countless others out there) are valid and should be valued. Then, to top it all off, he's decided that we Americans shouldn't alone decide how edubloggers around the world should tag.

The nerve.

Doesn't he know that we had things under control during our Edubloggercon meeting-of-the-minds? Noooo. He's published his theory explaining why many Americans have a tendency to ignore the Non-American. And you know what?

Graham's right!

His theory, while a little wordy, is dead on. Americans (or those hailing from the United States) have rarely acknowledged the greatness of international participants in Olympics past because, frankly, they were never exposed to them. As anyone that has viewed Olympic competitions from an American television set knows, the United States media does little to expose us to anything but the American athletes. Wait a minute - weren't we talking about education and technology? Yep. From Graham Wegner:

Unless you live in a smaller country, you can’t see that many of the issues pushed as being important around the edublogosphere are actually focussed towards the biggest participating nation and its education system. This is not a criticism. Don’t get me wrong. But it is something to be aware of if you are a Stateside blogger - your view is not necessarily the world view. Just like the American public watching the Sydney Olympics. There are others involved, maybe in lesser numbers, but just as passionate at leveraging new technologies for learning. And some US edubloggers (people I read and respect) are influenced by my Olympics Effect Theory.
So what are we going to do now? I'll tell you what might help:

Reason #7 - Blogging can actually give teachers an international perspective.
I mean think about it. When teachers sit, isolated in their classrooms, they are stuck with their limited, four-walled perspective. If teachers were to at least participate in the blogging process (reading, commenting, hopefully writing), the entire world could be in on their thoughts, needs, and desires - opening doors, encouraging creative thought, giving perspective. I know that I have gained a much needed (far-more-international-than-before) perspective as a result of my participation in/with the blogosphere.

And what about EduBloggerCon and our dire need for an international meeting of the minds? For those of you that were fortunate enough to attend the first EduBloggerCon (last week in Atlanta, Georgia - also home of the 1996 Olympic Games), you realize (or realise) the tremendous value it was to have Julie Lindsay, Mario Asselin, Anja C. Wagner, Vincent Jansen, and Diane Hammond join the ranks - each providing a refreshing international perspective to our discussions. I hope that upcoming EduBloggerCons can be increasingly global in approach.

Furthermore, I propose that it's time to begin planning an international EduBloggerCon that's truly international. In the spirit of upcoming regional EduBloggerCons, it's time to organize an event that any and every blogger can attend. Indeed, Second Life should do the trick (possible site for the 2020 Olympic Games). Here are a few of my initial thoughts (also started here). If this is really going to work, we will need to:
  1. Decide on a date. Personally, I think that any of these days would work: August 27, September 21, October 17.
  2. Decide on a time. I like 08:00 SL-Time (15:00 GMT). Once we decide on a time, I suggest that we continue to use SL-Time to avoid confusion with Daylight Savings.
  3. Decide on a location. Ryan Bretag's Blogger's Cafe would work nicely for small groups, but can it handle a large one?
  4. Decide on sessions, the format, etc.
I personally think that Ryan would be the best person to set this thing up (he did an excellent job with the Second Life International Conference back in May). David and Will should also be involved - if this is ever going to gain any traction. Heck, I'd even throw a few Lindon$ in Hargadon's general direction if he were to take up the organizational reins.

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Dan Pink and the Future of Teaching

On the way to NECC, I listened to the "live" version of Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind. More of a presentation than an overview of the groundbreaking book, it was thought provoking nonetheless - especially when considering Pink's theories and their implications for the future of education. I was particularly stirred by his references to the word routine (at 28:21 in the audio presentation):

Any kind of routine is going to disappear from this country. Period.
He continues by defining routine as any kind of work that can be reduced to a script, a formula, or a set of steps that can be delivered to produce a right answered - and states that if an action is routine, then it can be off-shored to inexpensive labor markets or automated by computers. Honestly, I found his logic to be rock-solid and was nodding my head continually throughout the hour-long presentation.

While he was expounding on the transient nature of routine, I couldn't help thinking about teachers. Having been a teacher for nearly ten years, I can attest to the fact that there are many things that teachers do, day in and day out that are monotonously routine. We routinely call roll. We (hopefully) follow a routine in disciplining problem students. And we have even trained our bodies to follow regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, each perfectly timed by the relieving sound of the school bell (it took me about two weeks every June to convince my body that I no longer had to visit the bathroom at 11:12 a.m.). Teachers live by the comforts of routine.

So what do Pink's theories hold in store for teachers? If his theories are true, then will the routine portions of a teacher's job one day be mechanized or outsourced to those willing to work at a lower financial rate? Calling roll, for example, could easily be automated using RFID or finger print scanners attached to each of the desks. Gathering homework could be (and currently is) collected using online drop-boxes. Even teaching lessons could be outsourced or automated (my entire Distance EdD is based upon this very premise - the teacher teaches an entire group of students, scattered throughout the state - one teacher, dozens of students, assignments and lectures often managed online, thousands of dollars saved). In writing this post I am realizing that Pink isn't actually theorizing about the future of education - he's describing the present.

In conclusion, what aspects of a teacher's work do you think could be automated or outsourced? Or better yet, what aspects do you think should be?

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