Archive for July, 2006

Sim City in the Classroom

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

Marina View school, New Zealand (Via Silversprite.) John Kirriemuir has posted another example of a teacher using a commercial off the shelf game in the classroom. This one is a Mr. Gover, a middle school computer teacher in New Zealand using Sim City to teach about the community… and much more.

Michael Fullan on Traitors

Monday, July 10th, 2006

I’ve begun digging into my reading of Fullan for my next paper, which will also be a part of my dissertation literature review. I’m underlining like mad, and much of it will go into my outliner later, but this quote is going directly on the blog:

Today, the teacher who works for or allows the status quo is the traitor.

I think this needs to be tempered with compassion and sympathy for all teachers, but I also believe this is doubly true now, thirteen years after Fullan wrote it.

Fullan, M. (1993). Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform. New York: The Falmer Press.

PostDoc Researcher Needed

Monday, July 10th, 2006

Is anyone interested in this opportunity? Mark Warschauer at UCI sent this my way and asked me to “please circulate.”

Postdoctoral Researcher Needed
Technology, Afterschool Learning, and Human Development

The Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine seeks a Postdoctoral Researcher for a full-time one-year position in Orange County, California. The position involves a study of learning and human development in a technology-intensive community program. The community center involved has substantial amounts of advanced hardware, software, and other media, and offers a high-quality instructional program focusing on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and communication targeting Hispanic learners and other low-income minority youth. Youth attend instructional sessions both during the school day (when they are on leave from year-round schools) and after school.

The position involves conducting research at the center, including carrying out observations of instruction and other activities; interviewing participants and staff; examining artifacts and documents produced by the participants and staff; and coding and analyzing qualitative data. The researcher may also be involved in designing a survey of participants, planning a quantitative impact study to be conducted the following year, and conducting discourse analysis of participant interaction. Research will be conducted under the direction of and in collaboration with Mark Warschauer, Associate Professor of Education and Informatics. Principal Investigator for the project is Deborah Vandell, Professor and Chair of Education.

Compensation includes a standard full-time salary and benefits. Prior experience in qualitative research is a must. Other desirable qualifications include an interest in technology-intensive learning; a background in discourse analysis, survey research, or quantitative research; an interest in the education of at-risk learners; an interest in science or technology education; experience in working with Hispanic populations; and outstanding writing ability. Applicants will normally have completed their doctoral studies, but otherwise outstanding candidates without a doctoral degree may also be considered.

The position begins September 1, 2006 and ends August 31, 2007. Dates may be adjusted for an otherwise outstanding candidate. Similarly, outstanding candidates who are not available full-time due to other commitments may also be considered.

To apply, please e-mail a CV; cover letter; writing sample; and the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of three references to Mark Warschauer, markw@uci.edu, with the words “postdoctoral position” on the subject line. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Video Games For Social Change

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Video Games For Social Change (Via Education/Technology – Tim Lauer.) How exciting. Tim Lauer cited Jeff Utecht’s notes on my session at NECC. Tim also linked to an MTV news article on social-change video games. I’m thrilled to see these technologies gaining some attention in the edblogosphere. :)

The Demographics of Role-Playing

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

The Demographics of Role-Playing (Via The Daedalus Project.) Nick Yee is posting results from a recent study in which he investigated the phenomenon of actually role playing in an MMORPG. This is data I am very interested in, as the role playing element is important to the educational potential of these games.

Top 10 student blog posts

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Top 10 student blog posts (Via Mark’s edtechblog.) At the edblogger meet up on Thursday night Will Richardson said something about the importance of collecting best practices that has stuck with me. So I am passing on this post from 3rd Grade teacher Mark Ahlness:

I thought I’d offer the Top Ten Posts from my students this year. They are not all great pieces of writing, but they are meaningful and important for the authors and their teacher.

Technology Integration in Education: What is it that makes it so hard?

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

What is it that makes it so hard? (Via Technology Integration in Education.) My wife and business partner, Eva, who is also a kindergarden teacher and site technology coordinator has started a blog that is not specific to her school – a blog meant for a wider readership. This is a link to her first post, a reflection on the difficulties of integrating technologies into education. I, for one, hope there’s more to come…

Incidentally, we debated about having her post here. I added her as an author on this blog and then hacked the default templates so it would say who made the post. In the end though neither one of us was totally sure that was the right way to go. This is the site we use for the business – and we’re partners now, but even so the blog still seemed wrapped up in my voice and my identity. I haven’t had to deal with this part of blogging in a while. We may do a little experimentation. :)

NECC “Final” Reflections

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

I’m sure I’ll continue to reflect on this conference, but I wanted to capture a few regrets right off the bat:

I got to have a conversation with Steve Dembo when I ran into him (with Jannita Demian) at the student showcase, but wish I would’ve had another chance to chat with him. In fact, I missed the Discovery booth altogether and wish I would’ve connected with the Discovery Educators a bit more in general. I only said hi to Hall Davidson in passing, too. Luckily I’ll see Steve and Jannita soon at the OCDE Blogging Institute, and as I understand it they are organizing some Discovery events for after. (By the way, click on the link to learn about the institute and to sign up… there’s still seats available! Guest speakers will include Steve [face to face], Will Richardson [via skype], and practicing teachers from Orange County who are using read/write web technologies in their classes!) I hope to develop a stronger connection to the Discovery community of enthusiastic educators.

I also regret not spending more time at the Apple booth! I got to see Robert Craven and Ted Lai a few times, but missed Jason Ediger the one time I went looking for him. I saw Kathy Shirley upstairs at the $100 laptop booth, but was being too introverted at the time to really connect with her. Thanks for coming over to say hi though, Kathy! I didn’t get to connect with any of the other SEs or ADEs whose company I’ve enjoyed over the years, and I didn’t meet anyone new at Apple. That’s something of a travesty at an event like NECC.

I had also told Jason I’d be podcasting in this feed, but the tools I had available lent themselves to blogging (and photoblogging and moblogging)… and, really, as comfortable as I am with performance (and despite my background in it), I think I communicate even more naturally as a writer (and I certainly have even more experience in writing). Ultimately, though, I’m sorry I didn’t branch out and do a podcast for the event, especially after going to all the trouble last weekend to make this feed iTunes compliant. Thanks, Jason, in any case, for helping me out with that and spurring me on to it. (Oh! I just discovered all the NECC content in iTunes! This conference isn’t over yet!)

I am sorry I missed the CUE Social. I think I should always rank social gatherings (and networking opportunities) ahead of session content at conferences. It is always the conversations I get the most out of, not the presentations.

Also, my own presentation was almost entirely one-way. I need to find a way to incorporate two-way teaching even into my conference presentations… at least then I’ll be able to legitimately complain about “sit and git” sessions. (Naturally, I also wish I had gone early to my preso, so I wouldn’t have been late.)

And of course, I need to find a better way to balance blogging and attending the conference. This is the most coverage I’d gotten up (I felt somewhat obliged since I was on the list of NECC bloggers), but it also kept me occupied for large chunks of time at the conference. At least using my new Treo was a blast… and actually limited the length of some of my posts. I imagine we’re all working on this one.

Finally, I went with the goal of trying to sus out the next big thing. Where do we go from here? What do I need to prepare for? (I really see my job as having to stay ahead of the teachers in order to help them make the frequent transitions demanded by today’s world – and those that will now benefit their students.) I know we have our work cut out for us spreading the word about the read/write web and helping teachers and students put it to good use, and I know we’re only at the very beginning of seeing video games and simulations in the classroom, but I am presuming there is something coming that I’m missing right now – and I didn’t find it at NECC. I know Robert Craven and I felt we didn’t see anything new at NECC, and even Stacy Deeble-Reynolds felt the same way after only a year and a half working in a department with Robert and I. (I’m presuming our other teammate, Mike Guerena, who unfortunately I never even ran into, felt the same way… he may have been at least as interested in the World Cup as the conference.) It seems Jeff Utecht also didn’t find what he was looking for, though I think I need to respond to his criticism of the constructivist sessions. :)

I also wish I had spent more time in the vendor exhibit hall. Perhaps then I would have found more new things, however commercial and incremental. What I did, see, though, fit well within my paradigm and understanding of educational technology. I suppose that’s good and ok for a professional educational technologist, though, eh? (Also, I really wish I had made time to see the US Department of Ed’s School 2.0 presentation. I wonder if that’s online anywhere… a quick search didn’t turn it up.)

In any case, the conference really was a great learning experience for me (especially professionally), and was inspirational in many ways. I am particularly inspired to become more involved in ISTE and to play a bigger role as a content producer next year. I will submit several more sessions – and they’ll be interactive. And, I’ll work out a system for blogging and podcasting efficiently before I go. Hey… I already can’t wait.

For now, thank you for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage of the conference.

Now I have some more writing to do for my new business, and I have a ton of reading to do for my studies at Walden. I hope to continue blogging regularly now that I’m done at the OCDE on a daily basis, but you can expect me to slow back down a little bit. :)

In the meantime, I’m off to the gym. I’m craving exercise after a week on the road!

LOL @ NECC

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

After lunch yesterday I followed David Warlick into a unique sort of session… the LOL @ NECC session. This was a series of humorous presentations by Saul Rockman, Michael Jay, Heidi Rogers, and Elliot Solloway. I was familiar with Solloway after my days managing handhelds for N-MUSD’s EETT grant, but the others were new to me, and as I spent much of the session listening as I blogged, I’m afraid I can’t give proper attribution or a proper write up of the session. I can say that at one point they had us wearing 3D Glasses (pictured) as we looked at assessment data and watched phrases such as “no test left behind” jump out at us. :)

It was nice to attend a mood lightening session at the end of the conference. I also appreciated the perspective offered by a conversation I had in the Sails Pavilion with a delightful young teacher-in-training from New Mexico (Brandy, I think), who was at the conference with her mother, a teacher showcasing at a poster session. It’s a very human endeavor we undertake – whole families join in, mine included (both my mother and Eva’s are teachers). I was also reminded just how important it is to meet people where they are. As this teacher-to-be was looking ahead to her future classroom, it seemed out of place for me to launch into an impassioned speech about the read-write web or video games in education… although I did explain that I was blogging the conference as I typed while we chatted. ;)

EdBlogger Meet Up

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

The EdBlogger Meet Up at NECC was a success – and a blast. I think thanks go to Will Richardson for posting the idea, David Jakes for suggesting the location, Steve Hargadon for creating the wiki (and the support blogging buttons – here’s mine), and all the participants for using the wiki and, well, participating.

I got to meet and talk with a lot of people I’d been wanting to meet face-to-face for sometime, including Will Richardson, David Warlick, and Adam Frey (of wikispaces). (This picture is Adam, Will, and I). I also got to meet David Jakes, Jeff Utech, Janice Stearns (from LAUSD), and many many others. (Here’s an image of Warlick standing behind Janice, Jakes, and Jeff – Warlick was taking pictures, too – with the coolest phone I’ve ever seen).

It’s funny. I left my bag at the hotel when I walked there and forgot to reload my business card holder before leaving. I was bummed I wouldn’t be able to hand out my new cards, but in the end I’m bummed I didn’t get to trade with people and bring home a stack of cards as reminders of everyone I met… and their blog address. I hope they all add their links to the wiki.

Here is an OPML file of everyone who has added their link so far (I’ll update this as time goes by – I’m subscribed to the changes at the wiki):

EdBloggerMeetUp.opml (UPDATED: 07/09/06 9:09am)

My OCDE colleagues Ranjit Mayadas and Stacy Deeble-Reynolds crashed the party. They’re not blogging (yet), but it was great to see them. (See Ranjit, and many edbloggers in this image.) Also, I was glad to see Courtney Peagler again before she left the conference. Now that we’re linking to her, she’ll have to start blogging again. ;)

The next morning Will called this the largest meet up of educational bloggers ever. I’m glad I was there. The conversations that happened there – and the connections made – were among the highlights of the conference for me. Perhaps the best thing to come out of it was the suggestion (in the comments of Will’s post) that we organize an edblogger conference. I suggested something similar (including elements of Dave Winer’s Hypercamp concept) a few months ago, but timing wasn’t right, as everyone was hard at work trying to get the online conference rolling. I’m sure it will be some time yet before we’re all ready, but I’m looking forward to it and am ready to contribute when the time comes.

Meanwhile, we’ve got our work cut out for us…

Thank you to everyone who was there for a fun evening.