Sweet

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One of my hobbies is architecture – I’m a sucker for an awesome building, and the PA Convention Center is one. The entry building you see above is the old railroad train shed (the oldest surviving single-span arched train shed in the world). Upon entering and going upstairs, you are greeted by the grand hall also shown above. The “new” section with all the convention halls and rooms is straight back, in the next block.

This is an awesome re-use and combination of Philly history with current needs. Oh, so sweet!

Day 2 Theme

Contructivism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
In education, constructivism is a learning theory which holds that knowledge is not transmitted unchanged from teacher to student, but instead that learning is an active process of recreating knowledge. Constructivists teach techniques that place emphasis on the role of learning activities in a good curriculum. See constructivism (learning theory).

This could easily be the conference theme, and the theme of most current educational conferences. Educational technology shines best when it is used in a constructivist classroom, assisting in the building of knowledge rather than the rote dissemination of knowledge. Over and over the “call to arms” heard is to create loud, messy classrooms where students build their own knowledge. Now if we could only get the state tests to hear the call…

QuestGarden !

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I was just in Bernie Dodge’s session on “Obstacles to Faster Webquest Creation.” If you have ever done a webquest, you know that they are great, but take time to create and manage.

Bernie unveiled a new webqeust generating (and hosting) tool called QuestGarden that will be available Sept. 1st. It takes many of the technical hurdles out of the picture, and provides a nice scaffolding for creating deep webquests for students. Since Bernie is developing the tool, it will have all the pieces that make webquests great.

Price? For the first year, free, and then starting in 2006, $20 for 2 years – an unbelievable deal.

BTW, sorry about the blurry pic, but I was at the back of the aud. during the presentation and had to move fast so I did not block anyone during the shot.

Internet2

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If a dial-up modem connection is the size of a soda straw (in terms of how much data can travel through it), and a cable modem is the size of a water main pipe, then Internet2 is built on pipes the size of the water intakes in Niagara Falls. Internet2 is a new portion of the internet being built between universities and other government agencies, with the focus on educational opportunities.

I saw a demo tonight of a live piano duet between a man at the convention in Philadelphia and another at a University in Nova Scotia. With the backbone of Internet2 to transmit data at much faster speeds, this type of event is possible. Now, there are still delays in terms of milliseconds that do affect something like live musical performances, but there are huge implications for what we will be able to do in the not too distant future.

I’ll be checking out some more Internet2 (“I2”) demos this week to see what is going on with it. The “official” site on Internet2 is www.internet2.edu

***Update After More Internet2 Demos: Internet2 is so new that most are still trying to figure out what to do with such a big pipe. There are some interesting ideas out there – remote control of high powered scientific microscopes, NASA video conferences from space, etc., but the fact of the matter is that I2 is simply a much hugher pipe – finding a need for that much “water” remains to be seen…

Wiki – mania

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Wikis are websites that anyone can edit. It is another unique product of the online revolution.

One of the neatest projects that has come out of this is Wikipedia – an online, community-created and edited encyclopedia. In concept it is just like traditional encylopedias. The primary difference is that the authors are anyone who chooses to contribute. You can look up an area of your own expertise in the Wikipedia, and if you so choose, can add or edit an entry to your liking. Try it – you’ll be hooked!

Wikipedia has been out for about 4 years now – I’ve used it some in the past. In the first 12 hours at NECC, I’ve heard at least a half-dozen references to it, so I thought it would be a good one to bring up here.

Day 1 Theme

The theme that came out of today (based on my participation in the Tech Coordinators forum and Keynote) is:

Knowledge is a conversation, not a destination.

We know this, but we don’t always practice it. Schools are still entrenched in “disbursing” information for the purpose of testing. Technology in the hands of kids at home is making them connected in so many ways. They are having conversations constantly and taking control of what they learn, when they learn it, and how they learn it.

Worldwide Conferences at Your Computer

I had the opportunity to participate in a web seminar (web-inar) today regarding 1 to 1 computing. There are a number of schools and states that are starting a program to equip every student with some form of computing device (laptop, PDA, tablet) in order to promote better learning. I hope this concept is one we can bring to Williamsville before too long. This webinar included some high level college researchers, K-12 Administrators, and upper level managment from Gateway and Microsoft. The coolest part is that it took place while I sat right in the computer lab. Using a website called WebEx and a telephone, I was able to listen to the presentors and see their presentation appear on the computer screen. Polls, Q&A, and chat are all handled right at the desktop.

This is a perfect example of how technology brings opportunity that otherwise would be hard to take advantage of. Rather than having the expense of traveling to see such a presentation, the presentation (and all participants) came together virtually, and the same end product was achieved.