• The Next Generation of Teachers Published 2007-03-22

    Will Richardson has a very interesting post reflecting on a recent visit with a class of pre-service teachers. Link to post. Be sure to read the discussion that follows. There are some really smart comments.

    I particularly liked Kevin Prentiss' contribution:

    ... Early adopters are always a small percentage. Most people don’t ever “get” contextual shifts in a society, they just start using new tools /ways when everyone else does.

    How many iPod users read, understand, or care about the “Long Tail” - but many of them buy the heck out of obscure songs they found on myspace without giving it a moment’s thought.

    I agree with Kevin to the extent that as the technology becomes "ubiquitous", more and more teachers will incorporate it into their teaching. But I think that a distinction needs to be made between two aspects of Will's vision: the first is the technology (e.g. the read/write web) and the second is the pedagogy (student centered / constructionist). I have seen a good number of teachers incorporating technology like blogs and digital media into their classes. But they remain teacher-centric. I would argue that this is not a discouraging development, but actually encouraging.

    Changing one's tools is an incremental change or one that is relatively easy to do. Changing one's mindset is a transformative change that requires greater support, motivation, and encouragement. But if a teacher is already comfortable with the technology (tools), the process of change will be easier - one less element of discomfort to overcome.

    Another issue that was slightly address in the discussion was that of professional development. If we are expecting teachers to embrace a student centered learning environment utilizing technology, we need to fashion our pre-service and in-service teachings to reflect this philosophy. Will holds Karl Fisch's workshops up as an example. I would love to attend one of his sessions. Have you hear of other examples of professional development leaders who model this constructionist approach?

  • CDC + SL = Hygeia Philo Published 2007-03-20 under ,

    Hygeia Philo How do you make public health sexy? You create a good looking, hip, red head who can spread the word. This is exactly what the Center for Deasease Control (CDC) has done. Meet Hygeia Philo (Love of Health), the CDC's Second Life (SL) avatar who is tasked with engaging SL folks in conversations about health.

    John AndersonAnderton, the man behind the woman, is CDC's social networking expert who created Hygeia and developed the CDC's precence in SL. You can read an interesting interview with Mr. Anderson (aka Hygeia) on the social marketing blog Spare Change. Though the post if from November, 2006, I just discovered it. I really struck by Mr. Anderson'sAnderton's response to the question "Are there specific health issues that you tend to focus on that are more prevalent among Second Life residents because of their demographics and behavioral risk factors?"

    I would like to gradually introduce the topic of sexual health into the space, as a way to promote discussion about the links between what one says and does in Second Life, and then one's actions in real life. Liaisons in real life, foreshadowed and even pre-enacted though virtual spaces have led to documented disease transmission, and discussion about this seems generally absent from SL.

    Here, here! Not only does the CDC embrace education in the form of discussion rather than preaching, they are willing to explore non-traditional methods of engaging their audience.

    Second Life is not for everyone, but it is certainly appealing to many. Why not use it to engage an audience in real conversations. Has anyone heard of any political candidates who have a SL presence?

    Side Note: I heard an interesting story on NPR regarding use of video games in political campaigns.

    Correction: Appologizies for misspelling Mr. Anderton's name.

  • Your Favorite Google Tool? Published 2007-03-12 under ,

    The mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. (source) It began with an idea for a search engine and has grown to include a whole host of tools. It has the power to transform our language. Google is part of our lives!

    As an educator, what is your favorite Google tool or your favorite way to use Google? This was the question that I asked a Google rep at this year's CUE Conference (hear her response) and pass on to you.


    Google has setup an area for educators, Google Education, that has information and description how to use its tools to "empower students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge". If you have never visited this resource, check it out.

  • PBwiki is Ad-Free for Educators Published 2007-03-09 under ,

    If you are looking for a wiki space for your class but don't want ads, PBwiki is treating educators to an ad-free wiki. When you create a wiki in PBwiki, you are asked for what the wiki will be used. Just select 'Education' and your wiki will automatically be made ad-free.

    Up to this point, this little trick was a secret that a few folks on PBwiki's Educational Advisory board shared with me. In my session at the CUE Conference last week, I passed the secret on during both of my sessions. Wednesday, I recieved an email from Ramit Sethi, the CEO of PBwiki encouraging us to spread the word. So if you are planning a wiki and are considering PBwiki, be sure to indicate that it is for educational use and it will really be free - free of cost and free of ads.

    Spread the word!


  • Quizlet - A Natives Answer to Vocab Quizzes Published 2007-03-06 under

    I am no fan of the drill and practice method of teaching but doggone it, there are times when flashcards do come in handy. It would be great if we could all go to each of the state capitals and develop a personal experience with each city that would help us remember them all. Back in reality, we need to rely on memorization.

    Andrew Sutherland decided to go all Web 2.0 over the simple task of drill and practice. He has created a site called Quizlet that lets you create online flashcards, review them, and finally test yourself. Let's say you want to study the top 100 SAT words. You would sign up on Quizlet and then create a "set" where you would type in the 100 words and their definitions. If you had the list in a text file, you could import your set. And best of all, if someone else has created a set similar to yours (and has made it public), you can use their set as is the case with the top 100 SAT words.

    What makes Quizlet so cool is Andrew's attention to detail. It is very slick, very user friendly, very useful. There are three modes in which you can use a set of words/definitions: Familiarize, Learn, and Test. This correspond with how you might start by familiarizing yourself with the terms by looking at flashcards. You would then ask a friend to quiz you and finally you would take a test with different types of questions (fill-in-the-blank, matching, multiple choice, and true/false).

    The site is well designed and very professional. And it is FREE! Oh, did I mention that Andrew is a high school student. He made this to help him with his French vocab. Because the site was born from a need to learn about French words, it provides a cool tool for inserting accented letters into the word.

    As a web programmer, I am amazed at the quality of the site. I am also in admiration of the commitment Andrew has to the project. I know that this must have taken many many hours. He could have used that time to study his French vocab and I am sure he would be a master at the language by now. But instead, he has an real world example of his talent. What college (or employer) would not be impressed!

    Well done Andrew, thank you, and best of luck!

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  • CUE Conference - Wrap Published 2007-03-05 under

    The 2007 CUE Conference has ended and I have had a day to reflect (and relax). The thought that has dominated my mind about the conference was the one that came to me while walking to get coffee one morning. Are conference goers more interested in discussions on ideas or sessions showing tips and tricks? I like to engage in conversations about general ideas and hear what others have to say. Though, from the questions at my sessions and from attendance at specific sessions, it appears to me that most folks are more interested in getting something that they can take home with them and use on Monday. I certainly understand this desire, but question the real value of the conference as most of these tips are accessible from a quick Google search.

    Having said all this, I did enjoy my time at the conference and especially enjoyed Gary Stager's presentation titled "If Blogging is the Answer, What was the Question?" The title got me into the room, but the discussion kept me there. By far, this was the most interesting session as it questioned the role of technology, blogging, and online research within the educational framework. In general, he recognized that teachers and students are using technology to access information but feels that the technology should be used to put the learner in control of learning ala a construtionist approach to education. Learning is not the same as access to information.

    Perhaps my favorite example that Gary Stager mentioned was his "Who Should I Vote For?" project. He saw an Iraqi election poster and wondered who it was that the poster was promoting. Students are detectives using the web to identify symbols, names, or phrases that might give a clue into the meaning of the poster as well as insight into the cultural norms that might make this poster effective. I am a sucker for a good mystery.

    Mark Wagner's presentation on Video Games in Education was also interesting and he gave a great deal of resources if you are interested in pursing the topic.


  • Drawing Connections - Homework Published 2007-03-02 under

    In my "Drawing Connections" presentation today at the CUE Conference, we talked about the importance of exposing ourselves to a diverse set of ideas when thinking about innovative solutions to problems.

    In an effort to extend the discussion began in my session as well as those being held across the country, listen to Malcolm Gladwell's presentation from the TED conference in 2004 and discuss how it can apply to education.

    Tags: cue2007, cue07

  • Leadership Summit Published 3/02/2007 09:26:00 AM

    My first event at the CUE Conference has been the all day Leadership Summit. It combined the educational leadership research of McREL and the technology of Apple with Diana Moon and Don Zundel represented each respectively. Dr. Moon spoke of 21 leadership responsibilities and 66 associated leadership practices that successful principals and other school leaders should exhibit. Her discussion was backed with quantitative statistics and made sense. But, as she admitted, it is difficult to convey the full knowledge required to become a better leader in a single day’s seminar.

    I was most impressed with her discussion of change – specifically, second order change. She identified four areas that if ignored will negatively affect change:

    Culture – “it’s not the same anymore, the culture of the school has changed”

    Communication – “we don’t talk the way we used to”

    Order – “there’s a disruption in the order of the day”

    Input – “you didn’t ask for my input”

    The thing that really resonated with me was the importance she placed on the need to create a demand for change. Change is not about the actual change but the perception or emotional reaction to that change. And often, the most stressful time of the change process is early as folks anticipate the impact on their jobs and craft. By creating a demand for change, this anxiety can be minimized.

    As mentioned, the summit had two tracks interwoven. If Dr. Moon represented the agent for change, then Mr. Zundel (of Apple) was responsible for creating the demand for change within the room. He did a great job of discussing the digital divide and how the “Digital Natives” are restless. He also used Karl Fisch’s “Did You Know” presentation to effectively communicate the urgency for change. Unfortunately, Mr. Zundel did not credit Karl and when asked for a link to the presentation gave a URL for a blog that links over to Fischbowl. (sorry Karl).

    Among the slides presented was one from Ian Jukes and Anita Dosaj titled “The Real ‘Digital Divide’? I have seen this comparison between digital natives (the students) and digital immigrants (the teachers) before, but today its impact was lacking. I summarized the natives as being impatient, spontaneous, and lacking focus while the immigrants are controlling, linear, and purposeful. Hasn’t that always been the difference between students and teachers? The specifics in the comparison are noteworthy, but the bigger question is “do we change the way we do things because that is the way kids do it?” I am not sure where I fall on this question – I can see both sides of the argument. But, it certainly is worth discussing.

    I thought I was going to leave the summit at lunch, not because of the content, but because I was lacking sleep. But I stayed around for the full event, and while it will not make my top 10 list of events, I did enjoy myself.


  • Check-In: Your First Impression Published 3/02/2007 09:21:00 AM under

    Dear CUE,

    You know what they say… Your first impression is the most important. If so, congratulations for making my first impression of the CUE Conference 2007 a favorable one. I was greeted by some wonderfully cheerful and helpful folks at the registration desk and then met by an even more spirited group who gave me my conference bag. All was explained well and I was made to feel genuinely welcomed.

    Near-by the registration area was a “cafĂ©” where we could sit down and digest all of the materials we received. It was also an area where we could meet other conference participants and begin our socializing.

    Mike Lawrence was easily spotted with his flashing digital pin and there were many others there to answer questions, quickly spotted by their large “Ask Me” pins.

    I attend lots of conferences and for their warmth and organization, CUE’s check-in has always been at the top.



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