Thursday, October 9, 2008

Professional Development=Professional Progress

"Quick hurry get your submissions in" that was the theme of many twitter and plurk postings earlier this week. Why? The National Education Computing Conference "NECC" was accepting submissions for the conference in 2009 in Washington DC. Many of my friends, colleagues, and professional learning network "PLN" friends were scrambling to get their last minute submissions in. Most are simply hoping to get at least one accepted while others, myself included, have multiple sessions we would like to have accepted. I also want to add that my friend Dr. Mark Wagner has very insightful take on the submission process and his experiences with it.

During the time in which I was completing my submission I could not help but reflect on many things associated with it. The first and perhaps most important was that I initiated a proposal to conduct a session in which I would moderate a panel on the value of having a PLN. I posted an query on both twitter and plurk asking if anybody in my PLN would be interested in participating on the panel. The response was beyond amazing. I had many who said yes, some even felt honored to share the stage with me, and those that did not want to be on the stage offered support by doing things like moderating a backchannel chat, or operating a camera to live stream the session.

Unfortunately, the format only permits me to have 6 additional participants on stage, but if my submission is accepted I think demonstrating the real value of having a good PLN will be easy to show. Audience members will be able to see the level of support one gets when they not only have a good PLN, but are actively participating with their network. As it stands I may have fellow educators connected from as far away as Europe. I am hopeful to have several continents represented to further emphasize the value of the network. I can only humbly think that without technology and tools such as twitter and plurk, I would not be the educator I am today. I am certain I would have less than 10% of the resources and support I get from my PLN. This is my preferred type of professional development. It also emphasizes the need for teachers to be involved and to attend conferences in order to establish and build a PLN

I have posted links to all three sessions I have submitted and hope to not only see many or all of you at NECC, I hope you will either be able to attend one of my sessions or contribute to the session on having a good PLN. Feel free to post comments and share your thoughts and opinions on this. If possible I will include them in my presentation at the CLMS/CLHS/CUE Technology Conference in Monterey, CA this December.

Build It Better: Project Based Learning From The Ground Up With Google Sketchup
[Formal Session : BYOL] (43610829)

Teacher, Teach Thyself-Make Your Own PD PLaN [Formal Session : Panel] (43720659)

We Are Rolling: Film Production And Its' Pedagogical Application In Education. [Workshop : Hands-on] (43610897)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Start of School and Hopefully Something BIGGER

Since by now most everybody has started school I felt compelled to publish this blog posting. Yes I will let you know now it is a bit of a rant, but not the kind you may be used to. This is my rant against teachers, of which I am one, but I am most certainly not guilty of what I suggest here.

How many of you spend a dime of your own money or even more time than your contracted day doing work for school? Yes that is what I thought. In an informal survey I have found that roughly 90% of the those I asked that question answered in the affirmative. Most actually did both!! Ok people, I respect you, I appreciate your energy to the profession, and most importantly I appreciate your commitment to your students. However, this has got to stop and I mean stop NOW.

I recently had a class within my Masters degree curriculum titled Human Performance Technology, "HPT." This was a fascinating class and such an eye-opening experience that I truly felt invigorated to be a student in the class. During one particular class session we had the privilege and luxury to have a skype session with Dr. Saul Carliner, who is currently an associate professor at Concordia University and at one time was the Chapter President for the International Society for Performance Improvement, "ISPI." During this skype session one of my classmates told the story of how he single handedly put together a computer lab at his school. He worked after hours and on weekends setting up the computers, network, printers, and projectors. Of course he thought he was doing a good deed for his school since he was not paid for his time. However, when it came time for maintenance, and we all know many schools purchase equipment without factoring in the cost of ownership, the school expected him to handle all tech related troubles. So he respectfully asked the school if he could be compensated for his time in helping other teachers and providing this maintenance. Of course the school's response was, "Oh, well, we do not have the money for that. Couldn't you just do it anyway."

Dr. Carliner immediately interjected and asked the question, what did you expect them to say? This student seemed dumbfounded since he expected the school to show its' gratitude by compensating him for what he felt was a reasonable request. Dr. Carliner then proceeded to break it all down. He stated that this is a common thing that teachers do not realize they are doing more damage to themselves than they think. The very moment this individual took on the task of working for free, it became expected he would work for free, and worse it severely diminished his value.

While I have always felt that teachers do too much for their schools and students without being appropriately and fairly compensated it was quite refreshing to hear this from an expert in HPT and hear him state clearly why. Another analogy was that when important speakers get paid lots of money to speak, the value of their time is measured in the amount of compensation. Do you really think anybody would listen if they spoke for free? Sure some would, but the fact they are in demand and command a fee, in some cases sizable, means they have enough value to justify their fee.

So that leads me to this, if ALL teachers decided enough was enough (in this economy that should be even more prevalent) and stopped spending their own money and working on their time what would happen. Yes their might be some backlash and yes many including district personnel would say that it is hurting the students, but I say NOT POSSIBLE. If school districts and the general public really felt that way, then they would ensure teacher's have the right budgets, tools, and support to get the things they need to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible. It is not fair nor appropriate to expect a teacher to use their hard earned money from their grossly underpaid check on your child. It is not fair that schools expect teachers to grade papers at home (especially if they have a family) when they waste hours and hours of our time on inappropriate useless professional development, among many other things. When a lawyer works after hours or on the weekends don't they bill for their time? When a doctor is "on call" aren't they still on the clock? Why is it that so many other professionals get compensated for their time away from their desks, yet teachers are expected to do the same and not be compensated?

Perhaps the foundation of this, will answer the burning question many have, "Are teachers professionals?" In my humble opinion, when you have to take credential classes, continuing education, i.e. professional development, you can be board certified, and many possess Masters or PhDs, I say with a loud and resounding voice YES. But, teachers need to start modeling their professional counterparts in order to be treated like a professional. Stop working for free! Stop spending your hard earned money! If your class lacks supplies or resources tell the parents to call the principal. Call the school board. Demand that you be treated like any other professional! And please, please, please, do not let them pull at your heart strings by saying you are hurting your students (unions can be guilty of this as well). No you absolutely are not!! They are, and they are slowly, systematically, diminishing YOUR value!!!

I recently shared this view with a good friend and wonderful educator Teryl Magee. She worked long hours and devoted much of her time to school. Once she recognized the value of her own time and her desires to do more with her loved ones she realized that her students will be just fine and she stopped working longer hours than what is contracted. She is happier, her students get a happier teacher everyday, and her family gets more of her time. I only hope more of you will consider doing the same.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cell Phones In Education

Recently I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the use of cell phones in education. The presentation covered many tools that are available to those of us that own a cell phone, as well as, practical ways in which they can be applied to education. I am sure there are many naysayers and there is much opposition to cell phones being used in schools, but I am of the perspective that if you teach appropriate use you stand a greater chance of diminishing inappropriate use. In fact I find it quite comical and offensive that so many decision makers ban the use of things like phones or ___(insert your favorite Web 2.0 site here) without any justifiable reason. In addition, by doing this without any real reason it is a slap in the face of educators. The message being sent is, "we do not think you are capable of managing your class, even though you have the training and schooling, so we will do it for you. But, you better get those test scores up and we will only provide you with the minimal support needed." This attitude reminds me of a quote from Bill Parcells former NFL head coach and Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins, "if you want me to cook the dinner the least you could do is let me shop for the groceries."

But, the beauty of having a wonderful Personal Learning Network "PLN" is that there are many educators who share my vision and my desire for education to take drastic leaps to the present and future. In fact, my PLN is one of my most valuable sources of information and learning. During the presentation several educators whom I highly respect and value were able to provide backchannel chat support and provide valuable contributions during the live broadcast of this presentation. It is important that I thank all of them: Dennis Grice, Alice Mercer, Aaron Smith, Andy Losik, Adina Sullivan, and Dr. Lisa Rodriguez. I have posted the presentation with a new application called sliderocket. Hopefully, it will run smoothly with the audio and the flash videos will play. Feel free to provide comments and contribute to either or both of the polleverywhere polls I have open.

Presentation Description

This presentation will cover all the latest research on cell phone usage and capabilities. We will take a look at the many tools that are available on our phones as well as how those tools can be used to produce educationally appropriate content. We will also look at a plethora of applications available online that enhances the capabilities of your phone. If you have a phone this is not a session you want to miss.

Presentation Abstract

A recurring theme I tend to hear is that cell phones do not belong in schools. Yet the latest research does not support such a drastic and unreasonable stance. Cell phones are an intricate and important part of the lives of everybody, including our students. Students nowadays are adept at many things associated with cell phones: SMS text messaging, capturing video, creating original audio content, taking photographs, surfing the internet, and in many cases conducting research.
During the course of this presentation we will examine some of the latest research on cell phone usage, global penetration, domestic penetration, as well as many other pertinent statistics. We will look at ways cell phones have transformed the lives of many including in third world countries.
The presentation will continue with an overview of the applications available on the Internet that enhance the capabilities of a cell phone. Among the features of these applications include, voice to text, how to send emails or SMS messages with your voice, recording to do lists, creating and publishing podcasts, micro-blogging, posting photos directly to an online photo album, streaming video from your phone, conducting polls, interfacing with google apps. and much more.
Concluding the presentation will be brief discussion of questions and comments posted in the backchannel chat. We will explore ways in which we can incorporate the use of cell phones within our curriculum, while remaining compliant with school/district rules. Presenter will also share actual instances in which his students have made use of some of the tools discussed and how the use of cell phones guaranteed access to the curriculum for all his students.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Social Networking For The Socially Relevant, My Take On The SN World

While social networking seems to be a common Web 2.0 catchphrase it has long existed prior to the advent of the Internet. Long before we were tied to our cell phones, our cars, and our busy schedules social networks primarily consisted of social groups called families. Synonymous with families at one time or another were tribes, clans, units, and in many cases organizations. Social networks are comprised of nodes, which are represented by individuals or groups and when these nodes are combined they make up a network. There has been a constant debate on whether social networking has an appropriate place in education for quite some time and this conversation will continue so long as there are social networking sites garnering unfavorable press like myspace and facebook. However, when properly established, appropriately used, and carefully monitored social networking has a place in everything from education to business to family.

One of the social networking tools I find quite useful and use extensively is Ning. This social networking tool is quite robust and like any effectively Web 2.0 tool, customizable. Ning was started in 2004 with the premise that individuals could create their own social network based upon their own interest or need and in turn could customize the layout of their network. They could then either invite members and maintain a level of privacy or leave it open to whomever had an interest in joining. Today Ning is the largest “build it yourself” social network on the Internet and continues to grow.

Another social networking tool I use extensively that is not generally considered among the social networking applications is called Twitter. Twitter is essentially a microblogging application that lets the user follow designated people as well as other follow them. Each time you post or tweet something all of your followers will be able to read it. Individuals are able to follow as many people and they'd like and respond either to specific individual with personal messages or post anything to their general message thread. There are many third party applications that allows things such as posting to your twitter feed directly from your web browser, you can post hyperlinks that are listed with a tinyurl, you can post pictures using twitpic, among many other options.

At this point I think as long as there continues to be dialogue about social networks there will be some positive fallout. For example, as long as parents and educators are exposed to the social discourse on social networks they will be more likely to at minimum monitor their students/childrens use of them and ideally utilize them to teach appropriate conduct and safety in a Social Networking environment.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th Of July Reflections

Over this past weekend and since I used to teach US History I could not help but wonder what this country has turned into over the past 15 years. Regardless of ones political affiliation it is vital, no wait, it should be mandatory that ALL Americans at least be familiar with the Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence. There are so many important lessons to learn, things to ponder, and items that people just flat out don't know about these two documents. Why is it required of immigrants that want to become citizens to know the basic foundations of our government, yet year after year high school seniors cannot even rattle of the Bill Of Rights. In my humble opinion important foundational elements of our Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence should be on every single high school exit exam. And if one really wanted to be "revolutionary" all students would be required to take a separate exam on the aforementioned and passing would not be an option. This would at least create a generation of voters that are more informed about the government in which they will or already pay taxes and will be influencing by way of their vote, HOPEFULLY!! Therefore, in honor of the "D of I," I have added the following with a little firework badge for patriotic emphasis.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to
dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to
assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to
which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the
causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ˜ That to
secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their
just powers from the consent of the governed, ˜ That whenever any Form of
Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the
People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying
its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,
as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should
not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all
experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while
evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to
which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to
reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty,
to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future
security. ˜ Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and
such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former
Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is
a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct
object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To
prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for
the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be
obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that
purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to
pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the
conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to
Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their
offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the
Civil Power.

For protecting them (British Troops), by a mock Trial from punishment for
any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection
and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to
compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with
circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most
barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the
most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by
repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act
which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in
General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world
for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of
the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That
these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent
States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State of Great
Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and
Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace,
contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and
Things which Independent States may of right do. ˜ And for the support of
this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and
our sacred Honor.

˜ John Hancock

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison,
Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George
Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean (1777)

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

P.S. There was NO 4th of July Party after signing the D. of I.
All the above Signers were British "Traitors" with huge prices on their
heads, Dead or Alive. British Troops raced to arrest Signers at their
homes, but instead arrested Wives and families. They were bound off to
London for mock Trials and long imprisonments by King George III.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Coming To A Tech Conference Hopefully Near You

I will be giving a seminar on E-Learning in a secondary curriculum. Since the use of Web 2.0 is becoming more prevalent and more schools are not able to service the needs of all their students I believe this is the next wave in Secondary Education. The demand for greater access to more diverse student populations and more curricular areas is only going to increase. Schools and school districts will not be able to fully meet that demand by hiring more and more teachers, assuming they find teachers fully qualified, or by adding more buildings to accommodate the classes. Therefore, the only viable, economically and geographically possible solutions are to incorporate more and more E-learning environments. Many school's and districts are already implementing more of an online curriculum for their students, but the current rate of implementation is NOT going to keep up with the demand. Let's face it, many of todays students want more than their school's currently provide and this a way to fulfill that need and then some.

My seminar will incorporate some of the theories behind distance and e-learning, such as Transactional Theory and
Equivalency Theory ,

as well as how many of the Web 2.0 tools augment as well as provide a richer learning environment. More and more school districts are beginning to adopt an e-learning curriculum, but lack the appropriate trained teachers and professional development to ensure proper and appropriate learning of the students. My additional findings and hopefully a Coverit live broadcast of the lecture will be posted here.

During my research I had the unique opportunity to interview a certified expert in distance learning. The interview was conducted with Dr. Lisa Rodriguez who is the Director and Assistant Professor of the Center For Teaching and Learning at the University of La Verne.

Book Review

Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools For Classrooms
by Will Richardson

Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools For Classrooms is a book written by Will Richardson that focuses on several key areas for teachers. The areas are the use of tools to increase student engagement, student motivation, student literacy, and the most important in my opinion is the transition to a 21st Century style of learning. The tools Will identifies as conduits for this are predominantly wikis, blogs, and podcasts. These tools, often referred to as Web 2.0 tools, are each unique in their application, but accomplish similar goals in that they provide students with a plethora of opportunities to increase their involvement in their learning.

Throughout the book Will gives various examples of how teachers are implementing the tools and the steps taken to ensure student safety, security, and conduct with respect to the tools. This is most prevalent in the first chapter in which he outlines a teachers steps taken prior to having her class posting to a blog. Will also makes it a point to emphasize that a teacher cannot simply assign students to a blog or any of the other tools unless and until they have in fact done these things themselves.
Another strategy that Will makes a point to emphasize in this book is that the use of the technology should not be an arduous task to implement, but rather it should augment their curriculum. Far too many teacher frown upon these tools thinking they do not have the time to learn and implement them. Will outlines strategies that teachers can relatively seamlessly implement them and encourages teachers to step beyond the norm and challenges themselves in conjunction with their students.

I would highly recommend this book for all it has to offer and the format in which the information is presented. This book should be treated as a reference book. It should be used regularly and often. Will’s book is not one that you simply read and shelve. It is one that teachers who are either currently using or desire to use the tools can use as a guide and for ideas on how they can use the tools in their curricular areas. I have used the tools mentioned in the book for at least two years to date and will continue to do so. I agree with virtually all of his findings and fully concur with the impact it has on student learning and motivation.

Classroom Blogging: A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere
by David Warlick

Another great book for teachers to have is titled Classroom Blogging: A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere written by David Warlick. This book is brilliantly written so the it can be understood and a useful guide for all levels of teaching and all levels of technology integration. David does a masterful job of explaining the impact blogging can have within the curriculum to both the teachers and the students. Another subtitle to this book could have been Blogging 101, build you blog from the ground up. And most certainly any teacher building that blog would have a masterpiece by the end of the book if the followed David's guidelines.

It is clear in this book that David's goal is to build literacy, not build bloggers. He uses the concept that blogs are reading and writing and reading and writing = literacy, therefore blogging = literacy. In order to revolutionize our students and build literate 21st century students teachers will need to look at the way they teach and should incorporate tools such as blogging into their curriculum.

Again this is another book that I not only highly recommend teachers read, but also treat as a reference book. The book should be looked at often for inspiration, ideas, and validation that if you are incorporating blogs into your curriculum you are doing the best for your students and yourself.

I had the privilege to meet both David and Will at the NECC 2008 and at the Edubloggercon prior to the actual conference. I find both men fascinating and inspirational on so many levels. Luckily, for me I had the chance to interview them. Therefore, coming very soon a brief podcast of my talk with David Warlick and Will Richardson. I also encourage you to check out their blogs David's blog is 2c Worth and Will's blog is Weblogg-ed

Use Your Noodle- Learn Moodle

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Edubloggercon 2008

Edubloggercon. WOW!! What a day!! My mind is operating in overdrive with all the ideas, discussions, thoughts, opinions, and ultimately thinking of fellow educators. These are the types of conferences or rather unconferences that I think would be more and more beneficial to the Educational field. Thus far I have learned and discovered the following things:

  1. There is a vast number of educators that are part of the Digital Revolution in education
  2. The unconference should be encouraged, implemented, demanded. It provides access to more educators without worrying about the financial constraints of a school/district
  3. Social Networking has a vital, viable, and useful application in education
  4. Since tech is ever changing and expanding it is imperative that educators have opportunities to collaborate and direct their professional development.
To all those that participated in person and virtually I personally thank you and humbly appreciate your commitment to the Digital Revolution in Education.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

La Prima

We don't need no education!!!

This is often the attitude I witness from teachers that choose not to incorporate technology into their curriculum. This is not only unfortunate, but also a travesty to the students that are subjected to this narrow minded linear way of thinking. The OLD agrarian one room school mentality that lends itself to this is not only passe, but one of the reasons education is lacking so much now. It is my sincere belief that all people, particularly those within the educational field should view themselves as life long learners and share this mentality and passion with their students. It should also come through in their teaching so that each year constitutes fresh ideas, innovative strategies, and more appropriate contemporary learning. Long gone should be the days of the talking heads that stand at the front of the room and speak with an authoritative voice that I know everything and the best way for you to learn is to sit down, shut up, and listen. Here's to hoping that we will all be another cog in the machine and break down those walls is mediocrity and apathy.