Archive for July, 2008

Demo for CLMS in Maui

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I’m in Maui with California middle school and high school teachers, including many teachers of the year. I’m asking these three familiar questions (their answers are in italics):

1. What is a blog?

Q & A.
Two-way communication
Electronic show and tell

2. What is the two-way web?

Interactive
It’s communication
It doesn’t require being in the same space or time. It’s asynchronous. It’s 24/7.

3. What do these technologies mean for you and your students?

It’s goes beyond the four walls of you classroom.
More peer involvement.
It’s fun – it’s the techie generation’s way to communicate.
Learning is hands-on and interactive!

So we’re on the same page and off to a good start…

Maui 2.0: New Literacies and Learning Networks

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I want to welcome attendees at the 2008 CLMS Literacy and Learning Summer Institute to this blog! You can find the resources related to our morning bonus sessions at edtechlife.com/maui2008 and you can find additional resources from Warren Dale at learnsmarter.org.

For folks who are not with us in Maui, you are invited to leave a comment answering the question below. This is an opportunity to effect the learning of middle school and high school teachers of the year from across the state of California.

What sorts of new literacies (and learning networks) do educators need to develop in order to best serve their students?

Links for 2008-07-08

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Links for 2008-07-06

Sunday, July 6th, 2008
  • Google Webmaster Central
    Very useful tools for anyone with their own site, including traffic analysis, and notification of any violation of Google policies.
    (tags: google)

Links for 2008-06-24 to 2008-07-04

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

This Blog Doesn’t Exist

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

I remember reading this somewhere once upon a time – and now I feel the truth of this on a very personal level:

If your website doesn’t show up in a Google search, it might as well not exist.

About a year ago I was thrilled to see my blog had climbed to the top result in Google when searching for Mark Wagner (with no quotes or other terms necessary)… this is particularly cool for two reasons: I work in educational technology so I want to be easily Google-able, and there are just a truck load of Mark Wagner’s out there!

This made it very easy to locate my own blog posts – and for folks who were in my workshops to reconnect with me. Now, though, that seems to have all changed… this blog is entirely gone from Google results!

You can still find some mentions of me (and this blog) on other sites… but the blog itself is gone. If I search for the title of the blog or the URL, the top hit is my old blogger blog, which points here in its final post. If I do a site specific search on Google using the site: operator (by typing “site:edtechlife.com” or any variation on this), I get… absolutely nothing! I tried a few specific searches like “site:edtechlife MMORPG” that were sure to turn up some of my posts – and nothing!

What happened?

What did I do?

And how can I fix it?

Did I link back to myself too many times from my workshop wikis? Did I in someway displease the Google Gods with my content? (This seems doubly ironic given my relatively new role coordinating the Google Teacher Academy.) I’ve put some effort into finding a course of action for fixing this, but haven’t been very successful. Simply put… I need the help of my network.

Can anyone help or point me in the right direction?

UPDATE: It took until today (Tuesday 07/08/08) for this to be rectified, but this blog exists again. It seems I’ve lost the top spot to the baseball player, who’s made it to a starting position in the big leagues. I’ll have to work on that. ;)

Meanwhile, thank you to everyone who helped out in the comments below.

Post-NECC Reflections (With Thanks and Apologies to Steve Hargadon)

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Far and away the biggest issue on my mind as I write this reflection (and my biggest regret from the conference) is that Steve Hargadon was hurt, and that I might have in any way contributed to this. Many bloggers, including me, openly expressed their criticisms of Saturday’s edubloggercon. You can read Steve’s (heartbreaking) response in the comments of a post by John Pederson, who wasn’t even at the event. (Thankfully, my post didn’t appear until Sunday – I’m glad it at least didn’t contribute to Steve’s Saturday evening low.)

I think every single one of us who attended this year were glad that the edubloggercon brought us together, and the event very much owed its existence to Steve. I want to publicly thank Steve for his efforts on this – and the many other projects he donates his time to for the benefit of our community.

I remember NECC 2006 and how happy I was to run into one or two bloggers during the conference… and how amazing the edublogger meet up (on July 6th at Rock Bottom in San Diego) was – and it was just one evening at a bar! The game was totally changed in 2007 when Steve spearheaded the organization of a full day pre-conference edubloggercon. The energy of that event carried over into the first Bloggers Cafe at NECC throughout the rest of the conference. At the time, I started a page on the edubloggercon wiki (which Steve created) for an Edubloggercon West, to occur the day before the CUE conference in California. Even though I did no work to make that event happen (and even though I couldn’t even go due to the new arrival of Clark), Steve made it happen and Steve was there. This year’s edubloggercon and Bloggers Cafe were also direct descendants of last year’s events, and were also direct results of Steve’s hard work over the intervening months. I’m certainly guilty of taking advantage of this good thing without having done anything to contribute to making it happen.

So I’d also like to publicly apologize to Steve for not pitching in. I also need to apologize for posting my concerns about the event online first rather than contacting him directly. He was good enough to respond to my comments on Darren Draper’s blog a month before the event. I never got back to him with additional ideas then, and once I finally had something to add (during the conference) I posted it to my blog in the form of a criticism (however positively framed by “looking ahead“). I’ve made suggestions for next year – and in the post offered my help to Steve and any other organizers. Now, I’m going to follow up this post with an email to Steve pointing him to this and personally offering my help. I hope I might be able to try out some new things at Edubloggercon West next March, or perhaps earlier at CUE and FETC’s Innovative Learning Conference in October or the CUE and CLMS/CLHS Tech Conference in December (where David Jakes will be one of the keynotes).

Additional Reflections

All that being said, I did see some innovative participatory sessions at NECC this year, among them Hall Davidson’s cell phone session in which participants used their phones (and interacted in other ways, as I wrote about here), Will and Sheryl’s session in which participants had small group discussions to define community (which I also wrote about here), and Chris Lehmann’s Understanding by Design session, in which participants created a lesson plan together. Candace Hackett Shively also posted some great new ideas for interactive sessions as a reflection on the conference. This is the first and strongest lesson I take away from NECC:

Participation is absolutely vital to good professional development, and finding innovative ways to tap the creativity of the folks in the room has an even greater impact.

In the wake of all the blogging about the “edupunk” movement this Spring, I found a sort of DIY or hacking theme to my experience at NECC this year. By far the one thing I shared with the most people was how to jailbreak their iPhone. I think the power of this device is awesome (for users in general and for educators or students specifically), so I was happy to go through this so many times – and to help people truly “own” their phones, which are probably the most feature rich computers they own. Despite the good luck others had with the WiFi, I also found myself “hacking” my way into network access, by repurposing Mac Mini’s driving conference displays as access points and by accessing other’s password keychains (with their permission). I suppose in a way, several of us also “hacked” the edubloggercon and the bloggers cafe when we voted with our feet and created spaces for more informal conversation. I’ve always been a fan of subversive teaching. It’s why I wear a tie when I present; the more conservative you look, the more radical things an audience will be receptive to hearing. So this is the second lesson I’m taking away for my own efforts as a professional developer – and that I plan to pass on to teachers:

Ownership, personalization, and creation are a particularly motivating treo when it comes to learning – and opportunities for subversion can sweeten the deal.

A few other moments brought additional perspective to my otherwise relatively narrow experience of the conference as an edublogger. The woman who asked in the K12online conference session whether it was about student learning (45 minutes into the session) and Brian Crosby’s post about teachers who didn’t even think to bring their laptops to the National Educational Computing Conference both reminded me of the tremendous gulf between someone in my role and many classroom teachers. In this election year, I am reminded that politicians often have to reach out to voters who are not immersed day-in and day-out in the issues they as professional politicians deal with so intimately. When speaking publicly, a politician can’t get too caught up in the details at the expense of their message. The third lesson I take away from NECC is relevant, I think, to both professional developers and classroom teachers:

It is critical to stay on message, and to remember your audience; spending too much time on the details or on communicating your own excitement can be detrimental to your audience’s (or students’) learning.

Now admittedly this is a balancing act. I would definitely advocate sharing the nuts and bolts details necessary for a teacher (or student) to get started with whatever you want them to learn – and I definitely advocate sharing your passions, but we need to remember that they are after all constructing their own meaning and that this usually happens gradually and organically over time. In fact, I have to remind myself of this when it comes to my own learning. John Becker’s post about the poverty of attention captured this for me as well. I need to remember that even at an event as packed with learning opportunities as NECC, there is only so much I can process in a day, which is why I’m still working on writing this more than a day after the event ended. This is also why I found the Understanding by Design model Chris Lehmann shared so intriguing – it focused on goals and essential questions. Ideally, this approach acknowledges that learning is organic and slow, that patience is a key ingredient.

I wasn’t quite this deliberate about it, but had I taken the time to formulate an essential question for myself before attending NECC 2008, it would’ve been something like this:

How can I scale my business?

The full answer to this question is going to take some time yet to formulate, but I did take a few things away from this conference. I already knew that I’m interested in scaling to the point that I own a business, rather than just a job. And I already feel that some form of passive income is going to be necessary. From Will and Sheryl, I was inspired to reconsider online distance learning as an option. From Rushton Hurley I was inspired to reconsider creating some sort of intellectual property, such as a traditional book. In any case, I think the collaborative power of online learning networks will also play a role, and in this regard the conference suggested the start of a reading list: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, who was the opening keynote speaker, and Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky, which was the focus of a talk at the edubloggercon.

If you have any reactions to these reflections, or any to add, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. :)

PS. I also learned that even though I am not very good at remembering to take pictures, that really doesn’t matter when you are immersed in a “culture of capture” in which a critical mass of people of taking pictures and recording video. A quick search of flickr turned up more good pictures of the events I participated in than I ever could have captured – with me in the photos to boot. A choice few I had to download into iPhoto for posterity. ;)

NECC 08 Highlights: Wednesday

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Like Tuesday, Wednesday started with a pleasantly social breakfast. I met with a handful of Google Certified Teachers at the Marriot Riverwalk. I was hoping more would make it, but I got to eat with three of the NYC cohort (Kevin Jarrett, Sarah Rolle, and Lisa Thumann) and one of our new GCTs from New Zealand (Dorothy Burt). I also got a chance to say hi to David Warlick for the first time during the conference.

Return of the Bloggers Cafe

I arrived in the conference center a bit late following the breakfast, but caught the tail end of this facilitated discussion in the main Bloggers cafe:

Blogging and Twitter Etiquette: Are there rules that govern the way we should interact in this wild west of the web? Darren Draper, David Jakes, Kristin Hokanson, and Scott Swanson. Come with your already-formed opinions about etiquette or start with this post to get some background.

It seemed to be a great discussion and by all accounts the bloggers cafe finally “hit its stride” or “found its rhythm” with this discussion. Significantly, I didn’t see any sign the rest of the day of any “presentations.” Now that I look at the planning wiki, I see much of the day was unbooked anyway – and perhaps I missed the other facilitated discussions. But, in any case, this was once again the Blogger Cafe as I’ve enjoyed it most (just as it was on Sunday – and in 2007)… a gathering of like minded (or not so like minded) edubloggers interested in connecting, sharing, and playing. I spent significant time here today and enjoyed it all – even when my Macbook couldn’t get online.

To be fair, I was able to use my iPhone… and at one point I turned the keyboardless Mac Mini on a nearby display into an open access point so I could get my Macbook online – a trick I’d sorted out in the Global Connection lounge the day before. And when that was shut down by conference IT folks, I was able to get on one of the locked networks by accessing someone elses’ Keychain Access to connect to a network one of the tech “doctors” had connected her to when she had the same problem I did. Yes, I felt clever. ;)

I enjoyed meeting new people (some I knew of and some I didn’t), getting to know people I’d only met before, and just plain feeling comfortable sharing time and space with a lot of like-minded folks I respect and have learned a lot from. I considered listing all sort of folks here, but it would’ve been impractical and I was sure to leave someone out. However, particular highlights for me were getting to spend more time with Clarence Fisher, Bud Hunt, Ewan McIntosh, and Dean Shareski – all of whom I’d only first met face-to-face this week. I was also thrilled to meet for the first time Kristin Hokanson and Jo McLeay, among others. And of course, more iPhones were jailbroken… I suppose that’s what I’ll be remembered for this year. :)

More Formal Sessions

The only formal session I made it to on the final day was sort of panel session, The Magic of Digital: Collaborative Interaction in Teacher Professional Development, led by Wes Fryer, with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Dean Shareski, with Darren Kuropatwa appearing remotely via Skype. These folks also pulled in many of the session participants to speak as well. In short, the topic was the k12online conference. Two years ago I produced three videos for this online event. My efforts were received well, but it turned out to be a much bigger time commitment than I had anticipated, so I avoided the commitment last year as I focused on my dissertation. Now though, I am re-inspired to participate. Bud Hunt talked about his experience creating a keynote for the conference last year, Jeff Utecht talked about his experience setting up face-to-face “LAN Parties” so the teachers at his school could be together as the participated, and many others offered testimonials or answers to questions, including Brian Grenier, Carolyn Foote, and more. One shocking question came about 45 minutes into the session when a lady noted that “none of you talk about student learning” and asked if the event was about student learning. Wow. Folks answered this well (because of course the whole thing is about student learning – or professional development to impact student learning), but we as a community have gotta work on presentation of the message to “ordinary” teachers who need us to connect the dots.

The submission form is somewhat hard to find on the k12online site, so here’s some useful links. I encourage anyone reading this to submit a topic, and as they did during the session – I encourage you to create and share your contribution online even if you don’t get selected for the formal conference.

Incidentally, my Macbook was offline during this session and I was just an audience member, so in the absence of a back channel chat, I resorted to doing something else to occupy the rest of my mind. In this case, I sorted items from my “Cleaned Up” folder into their proper places… I got from about 450 items down to about 270 or so. In the old days, I would’ve been doodling in class. This is one of the benefits of a back channel chat… you have something else for your mind to engage in which is actually relevant to whatever you are learning.

I also dropped in on Leslie Fisher‘s Learning World of Warcraft for Your Classroom, but then opted for returning to the Blogger’s Cafe and following along via David Warlick’s live blog of the session. When he returned to the cafe he related her closing story (about a mother realizing her son ran a WoW raid like a meeting she might attend at work) when I asked how the session was. Many people talked about the Bloggers Cafe being like experiencing their aggregator in the flesh – and this moment was a particularly good example of that for me. ;)

The Closing Keynote

Throughout the conference, one of the formal sessions I knew I didn’t want to miss was the closing keynote. I’ve been a fan of Idit Harel Caperton‘s research, some of which I came across during the literature review for my dissertation. She’s something of a protege of Seymour Papert, who’s work I really learned a lot from, and I particularly appreciate her research into videogames and learning – and into gender issues in educational technology. I settled in to enjoy a live stream of the keynote in the blogger’s cafe… and though I enjoyed the experience in the cafe quite a bit – I was sadly disappointed in the keynote. It seemed like some sort of weird time warp. Despite being something of an ed tech great herself, she seemed to lean excessively on her association with Papert and others, such as Negropante. (She even ended her presentation with the question “what would Papert say…?” almost as if he were dead – or Jesus. It was weird.) She also showed videos of her work with Papert in the 80s and talked a lot about her work with mamamedia in the 90s. This might’ve been good as a sort of foundation for a cutting edge talk, but strangely she proclaimed summer 2008 the summer of transiting to web 2.0 technologies – which was weird with edublogging, wikis, podcasts, and more having seen classroom use for years… and with no sign that they will see significantly wider adoption in the coming months. To make matters worse, she said some strange things, such as talking about students “programming a wiki” (or perhaps misspoke – or perhaps I misunderstood if she really meant they’d program a wiki). She called it a keynote 2.0, but there was nothing read/write, two-way, or participatory about it. She did include video clips of mini-interviews shot during the conference, which was a cool idea, but these weren’t great and there was a lot of screen time for vendors – and Elliot Soloway.

Ultimately, the biggest problem was probably just that she wasn’t much of a public speaker; it seemed she read most of her speech word for word – and without a teleprompter this was distracting. Regardless, I enjoyed the conversation in the bloggers cafe and the use of twitter as a back channel chat. Many of these criticisms came up there. Ewan McIntosh was particularly biting in his critiques. On the other hand, Wes Fryer was overflowing with praise, so there were other perspectives. However, from the steady stream of attendees walking out of the keynote (and past the cafe), it seemed there were many who weren’t even motivated to stick around.

I suppose I’m still a fan of her research (and accomplishments), though. ;)

In terms of content, she advocated constructivist pedagogy (or more accurately, Papert’s particular flavor of constructivism, constructionism), but it was difficult to sus out her message. At one point she did present a framework of six Contemporary Learning Abilities (CLAs), but these seemed to be far too broad (and overlapping) to be of much practical (or theoretical) use. Wes Fryer shared a good set of notes (complete with links) in a href=”http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2008/07/02/the-transformational-power-of-social-media-technology-in-learning-inspiring-stories-from-the-classroom-and-beyond-idit-caperton/”>this post. You can also read Vicki Davis’ live blog of the keynote here. I’d love to hear other thoughts on the keynote in the comments below.

Despite the disappointing end to the formal conference, saying goodbye to old and new friends in the Bloggers Cafe still brought a satisfying end to the overall NECC experience for me. Thank you to each of the edubloggers, twitter users, and other attendees who made the week such a rich social learning experience.

Note: I’m still planning to post a final Post-NECC Reflection with some additional thoughts on the conference as a whole.

NECC 08 Highlights: Tuesday

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

After Monday at NECC I stayed up blogging from about midnight until around 2:30 in the morning. The resulting reflection and communication that took place was a turning point in the conference for me. I began Tuesday much more prepared to appreciate the whatever experiences and interactions I might have in my personal participation in a conference of 14,000 or more people. Happily, I started Tuesday by enjoying breakfast with Dean Shareski, a blogger I’ve admired but only met for the first time at this conference.

Another Bloggers Cafe?

Following breakfast I was excited to join a small group of edubloggers who set up camp in the Global Connection Lounge, as a sort of Satellite Bloggers Cafe where it would be easier to have conversations and connections (so the name of the lounge was appropriate). This was also jokingly referred to as the Utecht Cafe… as far as I know, Jeff Utecht spent his whole day there – and did a lot to make it an inviting (and thought provoking) place to hang out and converse. I still have mixed feelings about that move (though I was enthusiastic about it at first and even suggested the new location). I can sum up this conflict in three concerns:

  1. I might be missing something: Being removed from the actual (higher traffic) bloggers cafe meant I would miss out on potential opportunities to meet new people and learn new things. However, since I was feeling more comfortable with experiencing the conference on a personal and more human level (and because I was happy to appreciate where I was and what I was doing), this didn’t bother me so much.
  2. I wasn’t participating in NECC Unplugged: Even though there were hundreds of sessions I was choosing not to go to (and this couldn’t be any other way even if I was in sessions all day every day), I somehow felt more guilty about purposely moving away from the NECC Unplugged presentations in the Bloggers Cafe. Also, though I had purposely removed my name from the presenting list, I still felt that if I was at the conference I aught to be sharing what I know with those who might benefit from it. Still, this is the one conference a year I go to primarily for my own learning, so despite the guilty feelings, I was ok with this.
  3. There was a potential perception of elitism: I really had anticipated that more people might want to move into a more conversation friendly location, so I was surprised that so few did. In the end I was afraid it might appear the way Scott McLeod portrayed it (not that I consider myself an FB by any stretch). I also noted how few women made their way up to the Global Connection lounge. This is the concern I worry about the most. I would hate to think that anyone felt the folks in the Global Connection lounge were creating some sort of “old boys club” or anything like it.

Ultimately, even though these things weren’t ideal, I enjoyed my time there immensely. The pace was much more relaxed – and more human – than the pace in most parts of the conference, in large part because it was a bit off the beaten path and it required an effort to go there. Most folks were happy to do their own thing and to enjoy the serendipitous conversations that still occurred. During much of the time, the TED talks were playing as a thought provoking background. The time hanging out helped me to forge new or deeper connections with several colleagues and bloggers I respect. I helped a few more people jailbreak their iPhones and iPhod touches, and a group of us explored a trio of network visualization tools I’d never seen before:

Visit the NECC Unplugged planning wiki page for the Global Connections lounge to explore more links discussed in that space – most of which are videos.

Formal Sessions

Unfortunately, many of us in the Global Connections lounge (and elsewhere I’m sure) fell victim to the overwhelming size of the conference, as sessions we wanted to attend filled up. About the time I was getting up to head to Stephanie Sandifer‘s session, Marzano and Web 2.0: Ed Tech That Works, a group of others was coming back to the lounge after being shut out of her session! Apparently it filled up a half hour before the start time… before she even got there. I’m looking forward to still exploring the resources Stephanie has collected on her Web 2.0 that Works wiki. The lesson some took away from this experience: include Marzano in your title when you submit a session. ;)

I did manage to see the beginning of Ian Juke’s session, Understanding Digital Learners: Learning in the New Digital Landscape. I hadn’t ever seen Ian present before, so it was good to get a sense for his style, energy, and humor. As far as content goes, though, there was nothing new in his message, as far as I could tell. I had this to say about it on twitter:

Hard to believe people still pack in to hear “education needs to catch up” and “kids are different.”

I’m glad I wasn’t dying to hear the rest, because I left his session early to meet Eva, Clark, and Darrel (Eva’s dad – Clark’s grandpa) for lunch. :)

Following that, I attended Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach‘s session, Powerful Learning Practice: Creating Online Communities for Professional Development. Will gave a quick overview of what an online learning community can be, including a touching student example (it seems I didn’t grab the URL, sorry). Then he led us in a “what is community?” discussion, in which we broke up into small groups. Fantastic! I was hoping for that sort of participation at the edubloggercon sessions. Kudos to Will and Sheryl for getting their participants… participating. Sheryl then introduced some frameworks for scaling a “pocket of innovation” into a larger change effort, sharing resources such as this education specific scalability matrix produced by Microsoft. She also shared the model she and Will use to provide “blended” professional development (synchronous online meetings supplemented by face-to-face meetings at the beginning and end of the project). As someone who is in the business of professional development, and who is explicitly interested in scaling his business (now that he’s done with his Ph.D.), I found this to be a particularly relevant session, especially when presented by two professional developers (and bloggers) that I respect so much.

To end the day of formal sessions, I made it to Hall Davidson‘s It’s in Your Pocket: Teaching Spectacularly with Cell Phones… and this was the best formal session I attended this year. Mark van ‘t Hooft has a great summary of the session and the tools Hall shared in his post, NECC 2008, July 1, Hall Davidson on Cell Phones in Education. I’d like to share why I thought this was such a great session – in the form of tips for future sessions:

  1. Make it Participatory: Hall began by saying “this is one of the rare public gatherings where you’re going to be asked to take out your cell phone and use it” and then proceeded to have participants take part in demonstrations of several tools teachers might find useful in a classroom. In addition, right from the very beginning he had the crowd hollering things out as prompted them during the introductory slides. Good stuff.
  2. Lead with live demos: This is especially critical for an educational technology session. There’s no better way to show how a technology works – or how easy it is to use – than to demonstrate it in front of a live audience on the fly. Hall was extraordinarily well preprared to do this (and/or a bit lucky), because everything he tried worked fantastically… and there was probably a dozen or so live demo’s in this one session – and many of them depended on audience participation!
  3. Keep it fast paced: The last thing anyone wants from a presentation of any kind is for it to be boring (and this is doubly true of any technology presentation). In a one-hour conference session, it is much better to leave participants with a sense of what is possible so that they might be inspired to learn more than to focus on every little detail of one little thing, IMHO. Hall has this one in the bag anytime he presents. He’s very high energy – and very witty to boot. He can move fast and make it fresh each time.
  4. Include Humour: Hall also has this in the bag. If you’ve ever seen him present, you won’t be surprised to know that we were laughing – hard – throughout the session. I sometimes forget how important humor is to a good presentation, and I often come away from one of Hall’s re-inspired to incorporate more humor into my own work.
  5. Stay on the cutting edge: I’m amazed at home many sessions at NECC 2008 could’ve been seen at NECC 2006… to say nothing of how many sessions seemed stuck in 1997. (I’ve tried to keep my submissions fresh every year – but that has apparently not been a particularly successful approach.) In any case, even though most avid edubloggers have been aware of some tools Hall shared for a few months (or even years), his topic was one of the few truly looking forward – to a time when teachers will be taking advantage of the handheld computers students are all bringing to class with them (already). I know there’s been “mobile learning” sessions at NECC for years, but this was the first “cell phone” session I’ve seen that really addressed practitioners at a practical level… this was stuff I’m sure many ran out and tried. Some of it I look forward to trying.

I think these five tips capture what I’m looking for (and striving for) in a good educational technology conference session. But, I’m including one more bonus tip:

  1. Include Steve Dembo: Steve appeared in a supporting role as he streamed video (of himself filling out a scantron) from his cell phone – to Hall’s presentation… live! Actually, this one demo exemplifies many of the above tips. Also, it’s something like Pascal’s wager, I suppose… if you believe in Steve’s efforts to take over the world, perhaps it’s best if you have him on your side. ;)

… and Life

Eva and I took time out Tuesday evening for “Date Night.” She arranged reservations for us to have dinner at 7:30 at the Chart House at the top of the Tower of The Americas at the center of San Antonio (right behind the conference center). Eva’s mom, Debbie, is a first grade teacher and ed tech coordiantor who was also attending the conference. She and Eva’s dad watched Clark for us so we could go out and have a bit of a break. I can definitely recommend the restaurant. It was much higher quality food that we ate during most of the trip (the Riverwalk is all about location, not quality). We had the crab stuffed mushrooms, macadamia nut encrusted Mahi Mahi (with steamed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes), and some sort of chocolate lava cake with Heath bar crumbled over it… all of it, including the drinks we ordered, was fantastic.