Why College, Why Now?

So Will Richardson's not sure about sending his kids to college.


As I enter into my final semester of doctoral coursework, I must confess that the only thing my education has done for me is open doors that likely never would have been opened otherwise. Oh, and it's also taught me to think critically, helped me to understand the strengths and weaknesses of current empirical research practices, assisted me in developing the ability to better rationalize when necessary, and even taught me to better sympathize with those that sometimes just don't get it.

Can these skills be learned without a college education? Absolutely. But it seems to me that in most cases - in order to be highly "successful" without the degree - you've either got to be distinctly specialized (eliminating any legitimate possibility of changing fields in the future) or you've got to be extremely lucky.

No offense, but I'd rather stick with the conservative, "prepare for anything" approach to my future, thank you, and leave rolling the dice to those with less to lose.


Those 21st Century School Lockers

Dave Cormier explains perfectly the reason why I still blog:

Not for awards, not for fame, and (don't hate me for saying) sometimes not even for the "conversation," the main reason I continue to blog is because I love having a place to catalog my thoughts. To that end, I can't tell you the number of times I've googled my own blog in search of something I've written before - usually to share with others.

That you, as a reader, still feel welcome to straighten me out from time to time by commenting on what I've written - is icing on the cake.

Original image source: Flickr user mybloodyself.
Quotation source: Dave Cormier.

The Role of Leadership in Technology Integration

Ronald Anderson and Sara Dexter conducted an interesting study back in 2000, with findings that every school administrator should consider:

For technology to become an integral part of a school, it not only is necessary to help teachers use the technology but administrators must be involved in it, too. The importance of training for developing teachers in technology has long been recognized in the educational community. These findings indicate that administrative leadership and decision-making are equal, if not more important than spending on infrastructure to maintaining a successful technology program.

...Charismatic people may contribute to technology integration as well, but it is even more essential for a school to distribute leadership and become a "technology learning organization," where administrators, teachers, students, and parents together work on how best to adapt new technologies to improve learning. (p. 17)
Nine years later, how's the scene in your school?

  • Anderson, R. & Dexter, S. (December 1, 2000). School Technology Leadership: Incidence and Impact. Center for research on information technology and organizations. I.T. in education, paper 98. Retrieved December 26, 2008 from
Original image source: Flickr user Jeremy Brooks.

The Eddies

Stephen's right. iJohn's right. And Doug's right.

Folks, if you're in this gig for the awards and the rank and the fame, then ours is a sad, pathetic, state, indeed.

For what it's worth.

Original image source: The Edublog Awards.


Any time I've ever been able to make any kind of personal impact on others in my life can be directly attributed to the fact that I listened more than I spoke.

Original image source: Flickr user lanuiop.
Quotation source: Darius Dunlap (here) via John Pederson.

Freedom and One to One Computing

I spent the day today tethered to an iPod Touch. Email, web surfing, and tweeting galore. Photos, videos, and apps they call educational - the iPod Touch (and iPhone, clearly) seems to be that little Internet device we've all dreamed of. Nonetheless, I'd summarize my experience today with one simple sentence:

As good as mobile computing might be, there's nothing that compares to the freedom felt upon returning to my MacBook Pro.

With that in mind, however, I still consider the iPod/iPhone/other mobile device combo to be one of the only feasible options for one-to-one computing for many schools and districts out there. As daunting as providing constant Internet access to 100% of your student population might sound, the task actually sounds manageable when considering that roughly half of your population likely already has access to the Internet, given that policies actually grant them access to the mobile devices they carry with them 24/7.

In that light, providing the other half with an iPod touch doesn't sound all that impossible.

Perhaps my calculations, however, differ slightly (or grossly) from your particular circumstance. Tell me, if you've got the time:
  • In your estimation, what percentage of your student population already has access to the Internet through some sort of mobile device?
Image source: Flickr user Rosh PR.

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The Networked Student

Twenty points extra credit now go to Wendy Drexler for creating and sharing this 4-minute picture of the networked student. And an extra twenty for sharing the transcript.

While I think that every teacher would benefit in better understanding the habits and techniques that today's students employ for learning, my favorite part of the Wendy's message takes place in the final 30 seconds of the video:
So, why does [today's student] even need a teacher, you ask. Good question! She is the one who teaches him how to build this network and take advantage of learning opportunities. She offers guidance when he gets stuck. She shows him how to communicate properly and ask respectfully for help from experts. She shows him how to differentiate between good information and propaganda, how to vet a resource, how to turn a web search into a scavenger hunt and get excited when he finds that pearl of content. She helps him organize those mountains of information. In her heart, she hopes that when he leaves her class, he’ll maintain his learning network and use it to navigate his future and creatively solve the world’s problems. These are the skills he will need in the 21st century.

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Some Bosses

A little late, but in response to Scott McLeod's I Said, They Said, I have felt strongly the need to share a little gold from Seth Godin.

Image source: Flickr user monkeyc.net.
Quotation source: Seth Godin, The You Show.

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Help with Amazing List of Book Reviews

I could use your help with this one. Cindy Mitchell, an extremely competent media specialist in our district, has created an amazing list of book reviews for use in any school library.

And when I say amazing, I really mean huge and amazing.

While she's create the list using static HTML pages, she's toyed with porting her work over to a blog. This alone will provide people with an opportunity to discuss the books - one book per post - but it also means she has to update both the blog and her static site for every review she writes. Additionally, it means that she still has to update her table of contents - by hand - every time.


What she really needs is a one-stop-shop for entering her reviews, a place that not only can display her review, but create an index of her reviews - likely sortable by author, subject, reading level and keyword.

What do you think? Got any bright ideas I can pass along to her?

Image source: Flickr user shaletann.

The Educator's Guide to the Creative Commons

As not every teacher understands how to implement the Creative Commons into their curriculum, I thought I'd take a minute to explain how I would use it if I was in their shoes.

Step 1: Understand the rules of the Creative Commons.

  • These two videos give a pretty good description of what it is and why creative people like it.

  • The presentation that follows, created by Jessica Coates, also gives an excellent description of how to use Creative Commons in the classroom. Because she has licensed the presentation with a CC-Attribution license, I am able to include her presentation in this blog post (or distribute it anywhere else on the Internet) - without worrying about Fair Use or other copyright restrictions - given that I attribute her as the author of the presentation. These were the terms that she decided upon when she created her license.

Step 2: Use Creative Commons-licensed materials in my curriculum. There is a growing number of resources available online for finding Creative Commons-licensed materials. The list of directories maintained on the Creative Commons wiki, for example, is continually growing. To narrow the list down slightly, I'll list a few of my favorites here:
Step 3: Reuse, remix, and share my Creative Commons-licensed curriculum materials.
  • Remember: The Creative Commons makes it easy to understand when it's OK to reuse, remix, or share new content.
  • This blog is an example of how I share my ideas and materials. I've licensed everything I share here under a CC-Attribution-Share Alike license.

Step 4: Teach my students about Creative Commons while I also teach them about global collaboration, desktop publishing, why creativity is such an essential skill, and my core subject.
  • If I were teaching a core subject today, I would use Flickr to teach math, wikis to teach history, and Voicethreads to teach geography. In doing so, I not only teach the core content, but I teach my students a variety of other essential skills that might not be addressed by the core.
  • If I were teaching a core subject today, I would also use project-based learning far more than the sit-n-git techniques I used to employ. With that in mind, it is any wonder why I love the Creative Commons?
To close, what are your thoughts regarding the Creative Commons? How and why do you use it with your students?

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The Creative Commons

I wish all teachers better understood the Creative Commons. Translation: I wish they actually knew about it.

Watch, and you'll see why:

Via Steve Hargadon.

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Original content distributed on this site is licensed under a
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