Seeing 20/20

When I read this local district’s vision I immediately thought of School 2.0. First, this vision was created for and by the entire school community. That is the entire community, faculty, students, parents, administration, local organinzations like the Chamber of Commerce, local experts from local universities and businesses totalling over 500 people.

This community sought answers to the following questions:

  • What should our schools look like in 2020?
  • What do students do in those schools?
  • What do teachers do in those schools?
  • What do we need to do now to get there?

The central themes of this vision, Safe, Healthy Environments; Strong Starts; Global Perspectives; Active and Engaged Learning; Effective Communication; Individual Flexibility; Collaborative Work; and Real World Applications, describe an environment each of us would love to work in.

A few of the areas really resonated with me, such as how they will teach foreign language, “Asian as well as Euro-centric languages, history, arts and culture” in elementary school. The vision of Global Perspective proclaims:

We will make use of the resources of our community as a microcosm of the globe and offer students exposure to the many varied cultures with which they likely will interact in the course of their lifetimes.

The part that really caught my attention was the Effective Communication theme:

The world is our classroom in 2020, and technology helps make that so. Students are no longer bound by location or time; knowledge is transmitted instantaneously, as are learning resources and opportunities. Teachers, students and their parents will use technology seamlessly in communicating expectations, strategies, performance, and assessment. Teacher lessons, units and instructional resources will be digital, web-based, and available asynchronously to students and parents throughout the school year and beyond. Computers, Smartboards (TM), media storage and projection, email, blogs, podcasts, and other means of utilizing technology as a tool for inquiry, storage, exposition, and reporting will be the commonplace elements of communication between the teacher, the learner and the learner’s support network.

Finally, I think that a district willing to address questions it may not be able to answer by itself is an indication that a shift IS happening. One quote, “Transparency in expectations and acheivement will be commonplace“, proves true as the district is posts updates on progress on the web. This district is a local district for my organization so I’m excited to learn more about their vision and the plans that they have for the future. Not to mention some of the cool projects in which I might help.

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K-12 Online Conference -3 Reasons to Participate Meme

3 Reasons Meme

Time for a new blog meme to help us spread the word about the upcoming K12Online07 conference. Please share either three (3) reasons to participate based on your experience from last year or (if you didn’t attend last year) three (3) things you hope to gain from the experience this year.

K-12 Online Conference 2007

If you are new to memes–when you are tagged– simply create a blog post where you link to this flickr photo. Then write your 3 reasons and then tag several others who will do the same thing. After you tag someone in your post, please email them to let them know so they can help spread the word.

Three Reasons to Participate

  1. You don’t know, what you don’t know (and these people know)
  2. You can be in your pajamas and eating cereal while learning
  3. It’s there when you need it, a very comfortable feeling.

I am tagging… my wife, Tony Vincent, Rick Weinberg, Karen Fasimpaur, Dean Shareski, & Chris Harris

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I’m So Proud.

So some of you may know that my wife is an educator in an elementary school.  She’s taught 4th grade for years, as well as some 3rd grade, but this year she’s in a totally different role.  She doesn’t have a class.  She has all of them (including the teachers).  She has designed, with the help of some grant funding, a Math, Science & Technology lab for her school.  Yes, the technology is there, but that’s not what I want to draw you to.  It’s the essence of what is happening there that really strikes you.  Inquiry, problem-based learning where students are acting, well, like learners.  So are the teachers, take this quote from a teacher whose classroom is located right next door:

Thank you for leading by example and showing a new facet of education that was not part of my courses when I was preparing to become a teacher.

Take a peek inside what the MST Portal is all about and leave your comments and links to similar classrooms.

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Would you like Docs & Sheets with that?

I witnessed something today, something that I feel we should all see, everyday.  After catching a tweet from my Twitter network I learned that Google released Google Presentations today.  But that wasn’t what I witnessed.  I saw a complete devouring of a web application.  It was almost stripped down to the network cables.

Listening to WOW2 tonight (first time listener) I entered during a discussion that reminded me that this wasn’t the first time I witnessed this happen.  Back in June at NECC those populating “The Bloggers Cafe” were chatting, playing and learning like children. There they were devouring Twitter .  They seemed so different from what we are used to in watching educators collaborate. Their energy was palpable.  Their enthusiasm for being together and working through the new tools, comparing notes on sessions and what’s next was inspiring.  I want more of that around me, or at least connected to me.

Today, I witnessed today the same energy, but this time from my office (a blah boring cube).  A “mob” (credit to Bernie Dodge) flocked to a Google Presentation created by Vicki Davis to learn all about Google Presentations live.

What I “saw” was learning in it’s truest form.  I observed a group of interested individuals collectively devour the new application from Google.  As the “mob” increased, more of the tool was disected and consumed by the collective group.  Using the chat feature, embedded in the presentation mode, individuals posted questions and others set off to see what the application could handle and what what it could not. The really cool thing was that they were learning together.  The presentation, to start, was messy as contributors simply tried out the features, asked questions, and problem solved to devour the application in one afternoon.  Although it’s still a demo presentation, by the end, it resembled more of a presenation worthy of presenting.

Thinking further, even with the little bit that I was able to contribute and pick up, I realized that the group was learning together instead of learning individually, saving time for all.  Time.  The educators nemesis. 

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Getting Others Started in E-Learning

I had the pleasure of being informally interviewed by Sue Waters from Perth, Australia. Sue had reached out to her network of online colleagues (via Twitter, Google Talk, and Gmail) to solicit input on how to get other educators to experience the benefits of e-learning. The interview was a conversation and she did a good job editing out my stumbles to make me sound smarter than I am. This morning Sue sent me a message that others were listening to what I along with Darren Draper had suggested for getting others involved in e-learning.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5549983948546511377" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

This video creation stuff is powerful. I need to get going on creating short informational videos… anyone have an hour or two to lend me?

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What Should Students Experience Each Year?

Off and on over the past few months I’ve been thinking of Web 2.0, technology and how we can be more globally connected. In doing so, I thought that each student should have a global experience at least once in their K-12 education. Further thought led me to think how ridiculuous that last statement really was.

“…a global experience at least once…”

Teachers should be having these experiences each year with students, several times a year in fact.

This begs the question a couple questions…

  1. Should every teacher strive to make a global connection at least once throughout the year with students?
  2. What other experiences should students experience each year?

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Intelligent Classroom – The List

I’ve received about a dozen comments on the Intelligent Classroom post last month and several emails. Many of you questioned whether we should be discussing the technology at all while others mentioned that sometimes it is about the technology. There was also some mention of technology that we should be rid of… like filters. I appreciate all your comments and suggestions for what you’d like to see in an Intelligent Classroom. I took the liberty to highlight some general base technologies that the majority felt important in a classroom for 21st Century Learning along with some commentary by yours truly, so without further adieu…

  1. Computers – While several mentioned an ideal 1:1, others mentioned 2:1 student to computer ratios, this may take more time, but in the meantime, teaching can be structured to take advantage of the 4:1 or 5:1 rations common in classrooms. Remember the computers available throughout the school and that out of school students may have access as well.
  2. DVD/Video Player – may be a thing of the past with online video, but let’s not throw this out completely, Computers that have DVD drives are ideal as long as they are hooked to the following…
  3. Projector – while ceiling mounted is ideal, having one is important for presenting multimedia in an engaging and stimulating way. Who wants to huddle around my 15.4 inch screen?
  4. Large Display – a TV monitor, pull screen or whiteboard is necessary with a projector
  5. Speakers – it amazes me that some computers in our schools do not have speakers installed, audio for video, podcasts, music or voice chat enhances a classroom.
  6. Microphones – quality microphones can record class discussions/lectures/presentations for later playback or be used for creation of audio and video files that demonstrate learning and understanding.
  7. Digital Cameras – still, video and web cameras – it’s about creation and documenting learning and these tools are popular for conveying feeling and stories. While these may be shared around a school, having enough available for daily use in many classrooms is necessary.
  8. “Open” Internet Access – “open” refers to the ability of network administrators to open up filters or blocks in a way that meets the needs of learners in a timely request by teachers. One of my understandings is that, at least in the US, there are regulations on funding that require schools to have filters in place. If these regulations are not met, then schools/districts jeopardize funding sources for future technology. What needs to change with filters and blocking is the ability to lift these filters/blocks when requested for responsible use. The procedures for doing so should be quick and easy for network technicians. Of course, teachers, you need to consider their time and not expect a last minute request to be honored on the spot. There is some give and take here.
  9. Web 2.0 Tools – I grouped blogs, podcasts, wikis, social networks here. I think this talks more to the teachers and administrations that are often misunderstood. One commenter added that his district purchased blocks for BlackBoard that didn’t include many of the features that truly define the read/write web experience. Imagine your blog with no RSS feed, no connections, as just a static webpage. Is it fear or misunderstanding?
  10. Printer/Scanner – Tim over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub (BTW – one of the best blog names I’ve seen) reminded me in his post about printers and scanners in the classroom.
  11. (NEW) Telephone – yes, a telephone. I’ve been in classrooms that don’t have the ability to dial outside of the school. The problem with this is that learning sometimes needs to reach outside the walls of the building and not necessarily through the web.

  12. Added last two after several comments and blog posts were added

Feel free to respond with anything you feel I have left out (just remember, I’m a male and human). The intent of this post was not to say that the tools are more important than the teaching strategies and practices that encourage and inspire learning, but to identify tools that we already have that can help meet needs of 21st Century students.

Oh, did you know that 8% of the 21st Century is nearly over?