Conferences Russo's Ramblings

Am I a Dinosaur?

Attending NECC virtually has been fascinating. Not the same as being there for sure, but reading and watching what I can, I do feel a connection to what happened. There is still a long list of videos/podcasts to catch up on, but I’m brining my official attendance to a close.

The twitter-skype chat-live blog thing has me thinking a lot about my own personal preferences for learning, and so I wonder…am I a dinosaur?

When I want to really concentrate on something, I have to focus on it and immerse myself. If its reading, I dont like the tvdinosaur_skeleton.gif on. If its writing, no music in the background. Attending a session with a speaker I want to hear – that’s all I want to hear. If its practicing the piano, then that’s it. OK, maybe one little exception – I like to have a cup of coffee while doing any of those things…

We talk all the time about how kids multi-task, and reports are coming out that brains are working differently. Are there any kids left who need to focus? Who really should turn off the chat client and log out of the social site to get something done (even if they don’t want to)?

Am I the new dinosaur? Is the ice age that is going to freeze my bones in perpetuity a huge spout of ones and zeroes that the younger generation can process and manage with the flick of a finger? I consider myself reasonably tech-savvy, but what do we need to do in schools to meet the needs of these kids? Or, are we just letting them be over-stimulated and under-focused when we should still be guiding them in how to train their minds?
Definitely a Russo’s Rambling…

And on that note, pointatopointb is going to power-down for a couple of weeks. Its that time of summer when I dig into my hosting site, re-learn how to tweak, align and update all the background stuff, and get ready to launch into the new year. I really like the current design for the site (implemented last year), so probably no new look for the new year, but maybe some tweaks and such as I upgrade the verison of WordPress. See ya soon!

“Dinosaur Skeleton.” Online image. 6 July 2007.

Conferences Russo's Ramblings

Great Questions – Do Anyone’s Tech Standards Adress These?

Courtesy of Barbara and her Dare to dream – Classroom technology Blog, the following questions appeared on a t-shirt being given out by Nettrekker:

21 Skills for 21st century learning!

Can your students….

Make complex choices?

Benchmark a process?

manage a negotiation?

Communicate clearly?

Motivate others?

Connect globally?

Organize information?

Cope with change?

Read a digital map?

Demonstrate innovativeness?

Resolve conflict?

Distinguish fact from opinion?

Respond to a blog?

Frame problems and solutions?

Sell ideas to others/

Give an effective presentation?

Set priorities and goals?

Lead a team?

Use technology well?

Learn outside the classroom?

Work effectively in teams?

If I look at our district K-12 technology standards (which look much like any other district – word processing skills, spreadsheet basics, presentations, ethics, etc. etc. etc.), just about NONE of the above questions are addressed. And I think it is reasonable (absolutely necessary…) that the above are the skills we should be aiming for. If that is the case, what does it say about the general state of technology “standards?”

Thanks for the post, Barbara!

Conferences Russo's Ramblings

Another “Jump Out”

Browsing through the blog postings from NECC, this one-liner shared during Andrew Zolli’s keynote panel discussion jumped out at me: (thanks to Jorge on his Desert Dew blog)

In the new paradigm, the Principal is now called “The Chief Learner.”

Pow. Why? It comes down to learning. Great teachers since the beginning of time know that learning is the engaging part, and do whatever they can to engage the kids in it. Technology has provided a veritable magic carpet to expedite the learning. Great teachers saw this instantly and took off with it (regardless of whether or not they were “techies.”

Unfortunately the principal of today has become “The Chief Moderator,” “The Chief Compromiser,” and/or “The Chief Lawsuit Avoider.” Not because they want to, but because they have had to. When the focus goes away from learning, the system suffers, and that is a lot of why our system struggles.

The Chief Learner…that’s what we all want our leaders to be.

On a somewhat connected note, this is why ed-techers love the new stuff – including me. I was not-so-nice in my previous post about twitter, but I now see that the folks there involved in it were LEARNING something new, how to incorporate it, how to utilize it. That is the addicting part of what we as educators do. I believe the key to why we got into the business, whether we knew it or not, is that we love to learn. Technology is great since it provides a never-ending (and often overwhelming) stream of new things to learn.

Keep it focused on the learning, and from that all the right things will happen.

Conferences Russo's Ramblings

Technology is Still Just a Tool, Right?

One of the things ed-tech-ers have to watch out for is being swayed by the “cool new tool” syndrome. Interestingly, Twitter, as an example, was all the rage at NECC. Its just a tool, but post after post talked about the tool, rather than the learning.

At NECC there were folks live blogging, twittering, and skype-chatting all at the same time during sessions. Just how many layers of concurrent communication are necessary? Does this really lend itself to higher order thinking, or just spread-too-thin thinking? Those involved (all great people whom I immensely respect and read regularly) are reporting that this is a fascinating new layer. I’m not sold at all, but I was not there, either.

Published work should involve some layer of personal contribution – formats that are essentially live transcripts are nice, but do they provide enough information to prove worthy?


Virtual Attendance Still Requires Planning Ahead

In my virtual attendance of NECC, the first thing I have learned is that to keep on top of the flood of information coming out of NECC via blogs, etc., you have to have to know what is going on so you can key into those sessions. Since I was not attending, I did not spend the time with the NECC Conference Planner tool as I have in the past. I would typically spend a few weeks visiting and revisiting the schedule to tweak what I wanted to see (with 2 or 3 backups). I did none of that this year, and now skimming all the posts is rather daunting, trying to grab out what seems important.

My reaction during the conference is that I’m not a fan of live-blogging. Essentially you get note-taking, which is not bad compared to the alternative, but I look to blogging to have some sort of summary, or point of view, not just a chronological telling of events. I think the best part of blogging happens in the days (weeks) after an event, when things are fresh, and people have some time to reflect a bit.

That being said, one of the great things that happened this year, thanks to Steve Hargadon, is that every session has a unique tag. So, by searching using that tag, one can hopefully review the conference schedule in hindsight, and get the feedback which has the reflection time in it.


The Constructivist Consortium

Just reading all the blogging coming out of NECC is a time-consuming task. One post that just jumped out at me to look into comes courtesy of Slyvia Martinez’s Generation YES blog.

The Constructivist Consortium hosted a daylong Constructivist Celebration at NECC, as part of their launch. Gen YES is a major sponsor along with a few other groups. What caught my attention is that the day was hosted by Gary Stager (founder of the CC) and Peter Reynolds (from FableVision another sponsor of the CC). Their mission is empowering learners – learning is the center of everything, and that rocks. Any group led by Gary and Peter is tops in my book – I’ve seen them both in action. The CC looks like something to watch out for – and I plan to keep a close eye on what they do and how we can make it happen here at Heim.

As a side note, I’ve been following the work of Generation YES for a few years now. We’ve never taken the plunge to use their curriculum/materials, but based on reading Sylvia’s blog, I have a renewed spark to see what they have to offer.



Getting Busy in Atlanta

The RSS feeds are starting to hum with activity in Atlanta, and NECC really has not started yet. Today was the EduBlogger Con, a 1 day pre-conference involving many of the big names in blogging. The picture posts in Flickr are also starting to flow in. One that jumped out at me, and is really just a scene shot in Atlanta, is outstanding. Taken by David Warlick, I think this photo could be a fantastic open-ended discussion or writing starter. Check it out here.

Oh, and Jeff Dolce from Orchard Park was spotted at EduBlogger Con, too!


NECC 2007

The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) is about to launch in Atlanta thisnecc-atlanta.gif weekend. I was almost able to pull off attending this year – but various reasons are preventing me. I’m severely bummed, as the last time I went was in Philadelphia in 2005, but I’m going to capitalize on this by seeing just how much one can get from virtual attendance – keeping up with the conference goings-on with blogs, videocasts, podcasts, etc.

One of the things I’m going to try for the first time is David Warlick’s conference tracking website, Hitchikr. It is designed to be a place to virutally attend a conference for those who cannot physically be there. Along with that, there are a series of blog tools available at the NECC website that should provide plenty of opportunity to keep up.

I’m less than optimistic about virtual attendance vs. in-person, but I’m very open to having my mind changed!

Image citation:
“iste atlanta.” International Society for Technology in Education. 19 June 2007.