ISTE Day 2

Day 2 of the ISTE Conference was yet another non-stop learning experience for me.  There was just so much to do.

The morning keynote was really a panel discussion moderated by Jennifer Corriero featuring a really diverse group including a student from Singapore.  Jennifer brought her energetic style to the main stage.  I decided to watch on ISTEVision rather than fight my way into the big theatre.  It worked out nicely.  I joined a gentleman at a table and it was a unique experience as we were discussing the issues between ourselves rather than being in the theatre and worrying about being shushed.

Then, another trip to the vendors.  Document cameras seem to be in high profile in many of the booths.  Despite this, I found out at supper that I missed the $175 camera.  Brenda had a great idea about using this as a scanner and more for students who need to get documents into a word processor.

Just before lunch, I attended a session by Gail Lovely where she argued the case that beginning literacy and learning how to use technology could be addressed at the same time and knocked off “with one stone”!  There are definite possibilities for success there if you have enough access to technology in the Early Years’ and Primary classroom

Kathy Schrock was up next and led a session on Twitter.  It covered all of the bases from tips to beginners to things to consider if you’re an experienced user of the service.   Even if you are a frequent user of the micro-blogging service, there are so many ways to use it.  Kathy provided a number of ways that Twitter can be used in the classroom.

Alan November always presents a session that makes you think and perhaps re-analyse just how many opportunities for technology-enhanced experiences.  This time, he focused on “Students as Contributors”.  There were some really good ideas and suggestions like:

  • having a scribe to document the lesson of the day;
  • creating a Custom Google Search for the lesson;
  • having a student researcher looking to provide enrichment to the lesson by just in time research;
  • use of WolframAlpha to show complete solutions to mathematics problems;
  • creation of videos to support the notion that students want to help each other.

Lots of great ideas.

And, of course, it was time to head back to the exhibit hall.  Will I ever get through it all?

I watched the SIG Digital Storytelling meeting as it was Ustreamed.  I had a big gasp when someone knocked the netbook with the camera off the chair.  But, it took the beating and held up.  If only my iPod Touch had been that durable!

Discovery Canada held a reception for Canadian attendees in the evening.  It was a great chance to talk with friends, old and new as the sky went from faint to black.  Our new friend Duncan from Tazmania (how did he get into a Canadian reception) has convinced many of us to attend his session on environmental stewardship today.  I’m looking forward to it.

I just realized that I didn’t comment on the poster sessions and the Open Source playground.  So much to do…..

links for 2010-06-29

ISTE Day 1

Day 1 is in the books.  It was an incredible day of learning and connections for me.  A very long day.  You have to actually experience the event to recognize the magnitude of what’s available.  You’re only allowed three days to experience an event that would take a couple of weeks to do properly.

So, what did I do?

First off, I went to Will Richardson’s session about “Changing the Climate”.  It’s worth reflecting upon how his approach and skills have matured over the past few years.  He’s always on the cutting edge, ahead of the crowd, and keeps moving.  When we first met, it was at the RCAC Symposium and the message was about these emerging tools and a fresh way of being connected.  Now, we’re focusing on using the tools for specific purposes.  In this case, it’s about having students do good.  We had a chance to chat before the session and we both agreed that education and the environment are both on the way to ruin if something doesn’t happen.  As normal, I take notes during the session.  I like the concept of a graphic organizer and so used to record my observations.

Then, the sessions grind to a halt and we all head to the vendor area.  That place is nuts.  I’ve developed a strategy from past conferences in that I don’t do much talking or interacting with the vendors at this point.  For me, it’s a matter of weaving my way through the aisles just to get a sense of what was there so that I could follow up later.

Next up was a session with Cheryl Lemke from the Metiri Group talking about “Innovative Leadership in a Participatory Web 2.0 World”.  Again, I used to record my observations from Cheryl’s presentation.  She provided seven tips that she felt were worthy of note to administrators.  I’ve recorded them but will really have to sit down and mull through exactly what the impact might be upon a success implementation.  Nice thing is that her session was recorded on ISTEVision so the session can be replayed.

I was feeling kind of lethargic and needed a high speed pickup so where do you go?  Leslie Fisher of course.  New and updated, like every time, she shared some of her best techniques and best applications for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and now iPad.  From the session, I have a big list of things to check out.  I think I’ll wait until I get my iPod fixed though!  <grin>  And, my friend WindsorDi has come to my rescue and found a Windsor location to replace the glass.  Can it get much better?

I also make sure that I spend time at the Poster sessions where informal discussions surround a concept are the order of the day.  A shout out needs to go to Ontarian Kent Manning who shared a Poster on Motivating Boy Writers.

Another quick trip through the vendor area ensues and then it’s up to the Blogger’s Cafe where Paul Wood is holding court.  I met Paul last year – what a great guy.  I got a hands-on demo of his iPad and what he’s using it for and a super external speaker from Altec Lansing.  I plugged it into my iPod and Bruce Springsteen never sounded better.

To round out the day, I attended an unconference session on copyright.  Obviously, the content was focused on US laws and not directly applicable to all of us.  But, it’s comforting to know that people are having the conversation and talking about the importance of dealing with this and Creative Commons in the classroom.  There is an increasing “Devil May Care” attitude among students – how do we deal with it?

Over the supper hour, there was a reception at the Canadian Consulate. This was a delightful combination of business people and educators mixing it up and having great conversations.  I learned something interesting about the Consulate.  If you’re interested in moving a business to their location, they’ll actually help you make the local connections.  I did not know that!  It was wonderful to chat with Canadian educators – among them Brenda, Zoe, Peter, Ron, Harry, Kent, Donna, Cathy, Dean, and more that I just met and can’t recall their names.  It was also nice to talk to the folks from NECTAR, Bytes of Learning, Bitstrips for Schools, and Tech4Learning.  Given the context, I really enjoyed talking to the lads from Bitstrips for Schools.  I put the question to them – what is the business plan for online web delivery of services?  Their main product “Bitstrips” is a free service.

After this incredible long day, it was time to realize that we hadn’t had supper!  A group of friends hopped the trolly and picked a stop and the first restaurant in sight.  Half an hour delay.  We then all realized how hungry we were and went next door!

Onward to Day 2.

links for 2010-06-28


“We don’t need no stinking badges”.  It’s a classic movie line and it had a blogging overtone for me recently.  I was reading Stephen Downes’ Twitter feed and he had commented in his resources on a blog entry by David Truss about folks being duped into putting a badge on their blogs or websites that promote other services that may not necessarily be desirable or worthy of support.

In sort of a smart alec comment, on Stephen’s site, I commented on the post asking about a badge.

There was a time when I had a number of badges on this blog.  I just happened to be looking at my blog on a data projector one day and it did give me cause to pause.  The blog looked like a comic strip with all of the different colours and designs for these badges.  When I added them, it seemed to be the thing to do at the time.  After all, the blog was nominated for this or that and I liked this resource and wanted to promote it and … But it just looked silly.  So, when I did a redesign of the blog, I went for a more minimalist approach.  I do support the International Edubloggers and the efforts of educators in their blogging efforts so it’s there as well as a link to Alltop where I share with anyone who cares just what blogs turn my crank during morning coffee.  So, that was it.

Then, Stephen gets back to me.  To quote – “Ask and you shall receive”.  He has designed a badge and made sure that I knew about it with a reply.  It also ended up being an entry on Stephen’s site

I support free learning

So, what is this humble blogger to do?  Well, of course, it ends up on this site and you can see it in the right sidebar.

That’s the story behind the badge appearance on this blog.  But, what does this mean?  What am I supporting?

I’m currently at the ISTE Conference where I’m doing some serious learning myself.  I’ve touched base with many folks that I’ve learned with over the years already and had some great discussion.  When I get my act together, I’ll be headed out to the convention centre to kick it up a few notches.

All day yesterday, I kept thinking about this new badge as I was having my discussions with friends, old and new.  It could be interpreted in so many ways.  My focus is on the word “free”.  Has Stephen used it as a verb?  Or, does it connect with “learning” to be a noun.  It seems to me that it takes on a different connotation depending upon how you use it.

I’m going to go with the latter.  The former is too political and I’m not in a position to wade into that arena.  The second interpretation deals with something that I believe passionately about.  I wish that there was a forum for blogging years ago.  I would have enjoyed documenting things that my computer science students had taught me.  The closest that we came was a Bulletin Board System and extra phone line that I purchased for 24 hour communications.  It worked but to a small group.  Does anyone remember Essex Wildcat! or Bay Street Bulls or Card Guppies? 

Today, there are so many tools that let you create and share your bit of expertise.  You can do it for free.  I’m sure that’s the main focus in “Free Learning”.  So, sure, stick the badge on your resource but make sure that you’re part of the game.  “Free Learning” should be a two-way street.  It’s easy to take, however, there needs to be a point where you give back based upon your abilities.  I’m giving back through this blog, my wiki, and through my work on GEC Computers in the Classroom.  All of it is free and I’m tickled when people take advantage.  I’m also so appreciative to visit internet resources where people give back.  Whether it’s hard-core content or a blog where alternative views are shared, that’s the learning that I value so much.

I’m also thinking about the concept of the ISTE Conference with the thousands of those in attendance.  Certainly, attending is not free.  There also isn’t one entry point or one exit point.  You walk into the conference centre and, unless you’ve paid for an extra charge session, you’re on your own to pick and choose where you’ll go.  In that sense, it’s more like “Free Range Learning”. 

I do like what Stephen has started and I hope that people get behind and support this concept.  If you’re generating content and are happy to share it, why not?  It’s a badge worth having.