Thursday, July 15, 2010

ISTE 2010: What a Wonderful Week!!!

What a Wonderful Week!!!

I have just spent a wonderful week in Denver at the ISTE 2010 conference. Formerly known as NECC (National Educational Computing Conference), this event has been running for decades. I first attended in 1992 and have gone every year except once when I was in Malaysia and once when I had back surgery.

The ISTE conference is filled with hundreds of sessions where educators share what they have been doing in their classrooms. Notice that I use the term, "share." The sharing attitudes of the attendees is what makes this experience so valuable. Presenters are sharing but the attendees will often share their ideas as well.

ISTE Leadership Symposium
My first "session" was the ISTE Leadership Symposium. This is an honor because it is by invitation only and I have been invited to attend over the past few years. It has been quite an experience. The best experience is the people you get to meet. I was honored to sit with Kathy Schrock, Dennis Harper, Scott Merrick, Bonnie Thurber, and Linda Lieberman. Best thing was that we also had a high school student from a Denver high school with us.  His name was Culver.  That is what is missing in our Educator Meetings - student, right Dennis?  Culver was a great addition to the discussion.  We were exploring new ways to situation schools. The final project for the team was to identify a unique environment for situating a school.  We decided that it would work to put a high school in a mall. This would be a great place for business classes to help the store managers. It would also be useful for students in Consumer and Family Sciences. The best part is that it wouldn't be a problem getting the students to school because they usually hangout at the mall anyway.  There were many other innovative ideas posted as well.

Regular Sessions
I didn't have a chance to attend too many sessions, but I enjoyed Howard Rheingold's presentation on Crap Detection 101.
I also attended the last hour of the EduBloggerCon on Saturday afternoon. This was good because I was able to get in on the last few minutes of a discussion of teachers' experiences with having their students online. 

Excellence Lounges
You can also see sharing in much more informal settings. Throughout the conference setting are Excellence Lounges like the Bloggers Cafe. These are designated places where people of like interests can convene and talk. It is always nice to bump into someone whose blog you have been reading for years - Shout out to Bud the Teacher. It provides a basis for discussion when you meet them and a greater feeling of connectedness when you read them.

Another Excellence Lounge that I enjoyed was for the Virtual Environment SIG. It's always great to meet the humans who connect with the avatars that roam Second Life.  I was walking by the lounge when Scott Merrick was taking the clan on a tour of a virtual world.  He said "Hello, Leigh Zeitz" to me and I returned the salutation.  Would you believe that 4 hours later I received a Skype message from my good friend, Pawel Topol, in Poznan, Poland. he said that he had been watching the presentation and saw me in the presentation.

THAT is what the I in ISTE stands for!!!!

I was both the student and the teacher in ISTE workshops this year. I began my excursion with a 3-day Digital Storytelling workshop presented by Dr. Bernajean Porter. This was a wonderful experience that was as much about building and managing an effective learning community as it was about making digital stories. Bernajean ran the class as though she were preparing teachers to run such a class. She would always present the rationale for her teaching strategies as she used them. I will try to cover the essence of the class in a future posting.

I also ran a couple of workshops. The first workshop was entitled Digital Portfolios Made Easy with Google Sites and the second 3-hour workshop was Using Social Media to Build Your Personal Learning Network.

Digital Portfolios Made Easy
The Digital Portfolios Made Easy workshop is the continuation of a workshop I have been giving for probably 5 years. Andrew Krumm, a former student, and I originated templates for teacher portfolios and have presented them for conferences and teacher in-service sessions across the country. Here is the DPME slideshow that I used.

This workshop introduces those templates and provides the attendees with background to enable them to create/modify and implement these templates in their own personal settings. You can see more about this at I have written about my ideas on Digital Portfolios Made Easy in past postings, and will write more about the on-going evolution in future postings. This workshop was sold out with 30 students representing 8 states and 3 countries. It went well and I owe a great deal of it to my friend, Bonnie Thurber, who helped me as a lab assistant at the last minute.

Using Social Media to Build Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)
My other workshop was Using Social Media to Build Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)  that I taught along with Lois Lindell. Lois and I have taught this workshop at the AECT conference in Florida and the ITEC conference in Coralville, Iowa. As the name suggests, we introduced the concept of a PLN and then had them use a variety of tools to develop their PLNs. This workshop only had 10 attendees and 4 of them were IT (Information Technology) people. HOOOOORAY!!! There MUST be more communication between IT folks and teachers so that they can work together and IT specialists won't be given names like the "Locked Nets Monsters."

Another aspect of the conference experience that is important is the network of connections that you create, build and maintain at these conferences. This is where I get to discuss ideas and make plans with others face-to-face. These sorts of connections can be made online, but nothing beats the face-to-face communication that you can have at a conference.

I didn't attend too many presentations because I was too busy either teaching, learning or schmoozing. Here are some interesting happenings in no particular order.
  • Bumped into Rosie Vojek who I earned my Doctorate degree with at the University of Oregon in 1992. Hadn't seen her almost 2 decades and we connected in a real-world session about virtual worlds. She and her husband, Rob, have written a book, Motivate! Inspire! Lead!: 10 Strategies for Building Collegial Learning Communities.  I haven't purchased my copy yet, but it looks like it will fit nicely into the books that I am reading nowdays.
  • Had dinner with Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay where we discussed the Flat Classroom Conference 2011 next February. The dinner wasn't as much a surprise as the wonderful Thai food we ate while there.
  • I was also able to connect with a high school friend, Doug Hartwell, who I hadn't seen in almost 40 years (gosh I'm old.)
  • I met Kevin Honeycutt who is a bundle of musical energy. He introduced me to:
  • I even had a chance to sit down and talk with my friend, David Thornburg. 
There are so many things that I learned at this conference that I will be writing about them for the next couple of weeks. I would be interested in your including specific questions in your comments so that I can respond to them or add your perceptions if you happen to have attended ISTE 2010.  I will continue to share things that I found in the next few postings as well.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Free Google App Inventor: Now You Can Create Your Own Droid Apps

It's HERE!!!! . . . . well almost here.

Mashable just posted that Google has launched a new tool called the Google App Inventor.  This new tool is supposed to enable non-coders to develop their own apps. Using a modular programming process, the neo-developer can drag and drop "blocks" to create the look, feel and functionality of the desired app.

Imagine using this capability in K-12 schools. I am not talking about programming class.  I am talking about History, Geography, Math, English and Spanish. Students will be able to augment their learning by creating apps that can assist them in solving problems and posing new ones.

The New York Times said that Google has been testing this for a while in the schools already to test out how it works.  A nursing student at Indiana University created an app that would call an emergency number if someone fell. The program used the phone's accelerometer to sense a fall and if the person didn't get up in a short while or press the onscreen button, it would automatically make the call.

I said that the App Developer was "almost here."  That is because I clicked on the link to take me to the Google App Inventor, and it took me to an application for being considered by the Google App Inventor team for receiving access to the beta version.

Not a problem. I told them that I am a Google Certified Teacher and then explained some of my visions for this wonderful way to empower the "regular guy/gal."  I hope that I am accepted.

Here is a video that shows how a neo-programmer creates, loads and executes a simple Android app in just over a minute.

Will these be polished and sophisticated applications?  I don't know enough about the interface, but at least this tool will provide the canvas upon which our creative artists can develop prototypes that can later be refined commercially if need be.

What do you think?  How would access to this type of programming assistant affect how students learn in your class?


Friday, July 09, 2010

Do You Get IT? . . . . . . . . What is IT?

I have had a number of discussions lately with people about people who "Get IT."  This has to do with hiring people who "Get IT" or working with people who "Get IT" or helping other educators "Get IT."

The $64 question is . . .  "What is IT?"

IT can mean a lot of things in the context of education:
IT can mean Information Technologies.
IT can mean Instructional Technologies. 
 IT can be the name of a wonderful book by Stephen King.

But NOT in this case. In this case, IT refers to a new paradigm for teaching and learning. 
It has to do with using technology to provide previously elusive opportunities for learners.
It has to do with a new perspective on teaching by empowering students through providing them challenge-based learning opportunities.

But . . .             What Do YOU Think?

How do you describe IT to your colleagues when you are advocating IT?

Please tell me what you think?  Leave your comments on your perception of IT. 
Let's see what the Blogosphere of educators who read this blog believe.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Using Social Media to Create Your PLN at ISTE 2010 (Updated)

Here is a link to the CoverItLive backchannel discussion that we had in our ISTE Workshop. It will take you to Lois Lindell's blog.

We had an interesting workshop. 10 people attended. There were 3 IT people who were there to learn more about what their teachers were interested in doing.  I loved their perspectives. They said that their students and teachers were involved in social media and they wanted to learn more about the topic so that they could make more informed decisions.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about strategies for IT personnel and teachers to "Play Well Together." I will cover my ideas and observations in a later posting.

Anywho, Our workshop covered a great deal of topics. We began with an introduction into Personal Learning Networks and then reviewed a number of tools to use for developing their PLNs. Here is the wiki for our presentation.

DIIGO: We began with introducing Diigo. Most of the attendees had background in, but we wanted them to learn about the additional features that are offered in Diigo.  We had them download toolbars and then go on a Tagging Spree. They enjoyed how they could bookmark a site, tag it and write a description. It got really exciting to see the additional things we could do with Diigo. We could:
  • Twitter the posting;
  • Add it to a list (which could then be rearranged, shared and used as an RSS feed); and
  • Sent to a group.
What's REALLY exciting is how the list can be viewed in a live webslide show.

RSS: We did something new here. We introduced RSS feed using Diigo and then explained what it did. This is the opposite of what we usually do, but I think that it worked.

iGoogle: We used iGoogle as the RSS Organizer (We decided to use the term, Organizer, instead of Aggregator.) Began with some videos of interviewed quotes from some of my students about how they see PLNs changing the way that their students do research.

Lois shared how to she uses Diigo to follow the journal research on specific topics. I love her process and she has some useful ideas about how to organize your search into an RSS feed that you can flod into  your iGoogle Page.

Finally, Lois and I tried something new which worked quite well.  We decided to "shut up" about half way through. We suggested that the participants should find things that were interesting to them and then let them work on their own. It went quite well, but we felt like third wheels.  I guess that is just part of the process of facilitating student-centered learning.
Using Social Media to Create Your PLN at ISTE 2010
View more presentations from zeitz.

What have you found to be a useful form of Social Media to support your PLN?