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NECC 2006 Attendees | At a Glance – Blogging and Podcasting

NECC BloggingNECC's Blogging and Podcasting page is up and running…there are 22 bloggers/podcasters listed right now including ones from England, Bangladesh, Guam, and Canada. I'm not sure how that number will change as thing progress…I'm sure there are bloggers out there who will be at the conference who didn't request that they be listed on NECC's site.

There are 13 concurrent session slots from Wednesday to Thursday (we won't count all the poster sessions and workshops and keynotes and everything else) with about 23 sessions per time slot, so that makes approximately 300 concurrent sessions happening Wednesday thru Friday. Stick with the math a bit longer…each of the aforementioned 22 bloggers would have to attend 13.6 concurrent sessions in order to get them all blogged. Something tells me that's not going to happen.

We need more participants!

Online Handout Update: 55


More Filtering Follies

Ok, I wasn’t going to talk about this, but it’s been driving me crazy all day. And since it’s Friday, blogging about this saves me from doing other, more tedious stuff. So…

To back up a bit, I had read this Battling Censorship entry as well as others that have passed through my Bloglines this week. Basically everyone was lamenting the fact that MySpace.com was being filtered by schools. My intial reaction to this was “If you’re a teacher with a lab full of kids to pay attention to, it’s nice to have one less thing to concern yourself with if you know the kids can’t get places they shouldn’t be.” That opinion was further enhanced when I saw that one of the bemoaners hadn’t been a classroom teacher since about 1992. I mean, the web as we know it wasn’t even around. Anyway, I shrugged it off and moved on.

Fast forward to this morning, when I returned a call to the outreach coordinator for one of our state univerisities. She was asking about blogs, specifically about WordPress.com and Edublogs.org which I use during blog workshops. It seems that they were having a hard time adding blogging to their educational technology certification courses because these sites were being blocked by a particular district’s filters.

Me: WHAT!? What do you mean they’re being blocked?

Her: Yes, the tech director told me that they block all blogs. He said that allowing teachers to create their own blogs violated the Children’s Internet Protection Act since they wouldn’t be hosted on the district site…

Me: WHAT!?

Her: Yes, he told me that if they allowed blogging sites through they would be helping teachers break the law. The tech director wanted to have absolute control over what the teachers were putting on the web.

Me: Well, now that you’re talking control issues I see that yes, you were talking to a tech director. But the CIPA business is complete bunk.

Her: Thanks for the conversation…have a great day!

I had told her that I was ready to punch this person in the nose for making up lies, but she allowed as how I didn’t need to. Thankfully she contacted me later in the day to tell me that she had again spoken to this tech director and had convinced him that since our ISD and other educationally sound institutions were using free sites such as WordPress.com and Edublogs.org that they, too, would allow these sites to go through.

The upshot is that web filters in the wrong hands are not so helpful…

Connecting and Collaborating Conference May 5

In the Weekly Web Wonders email I've sent out numerous links and resources regarding new online tools such as wikis and blogs as well as collaborative sites like Furl, Writely, and del.icio.us. These new tools can be extremely useful to teachers, but I know many of you are pressed for time and can't fully explore them.

If you're interested in seeing how blogs, wikis, podcasts, Skype, and other cool tools can be used with your kids then consider attending the Connecting & Collaborating Conference on May 5 at the Ottawa Area ISD in Holland. I highly recommend that anyone who is able attend this hands-on conference. You'll leave with not only new knowledge, but newly created projects. Freedom to Learn participants: You're access to technology makes this an even more relevant day. Consider sending several teachers from your school.

If you have any questions, let me know. Below is the official description with all the registration information.


Connecting and Collaborating Conference: Online Tools for the Classrooms
There is a growing interest about how blogs, podcasts, wikis, and other online tools can be used to improve learning. To address this interest, the Ottawa Area ISD will be hosting a one day conference called, Connecting and Collaborating Conference: Online Tools for the Classrooms on May 5, 2006. Local educators as well as experts from across the state will present a dozen different hands-on breakout sessions where you can learn by doing. Steve Dembo, an online learning expert who supports the popular educator's blog www.teach42.com will present the luncheon keynote: "The New Permanent Record." Cost: $50 (lunch included.) Registration is discounted to $30 if 3 or more from the same district register together.

Visit: http://www.remc7.k12.mi.us/remc/onlinetools for conference details or http://www.solutionwhere.com/oaisd/cw/showcourse.asp?242 to register.

Questions…contact: dgolden@oaisd.org 877-702-8600 x4071.

It’s not the Technology, but why are we still talking about it?

So my little post (Blogs won’t be here forever) from last week was mentioned by a couple of edubloggers…Will Richardson and Dan Mitchell. This intro sentence to Dan’s Teachnology Blog post (now I see he was really looking at Will’s post) initially struck me:

I know it seems self-evident to many of us, but this post on Weblogg-Ed may be important reading for some:

I know it’s important reading for some, but why? Even without the read/write web there have been plenty of educators saying things along the lines of “don’t use technology for the sake of using technology” and “students need to learn how to apply the technology…know when to use it, not just how to use it.” Why is it necessary to continue to preach along these same themes?

My guess is that the technology is changing too fast for educators to change the way they’re thinking about it. Many teachers are just now getting that the web is more than a giant encyclopedia and that they can design activities that go beyond Knowledge, Comprehension and Application and up to Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

Connecting & Collaborating Conference

Save the date…on May 5 Ottawa Area Intermediate School District is hosting the first annual Connecting & Collaborating Conference. This going to be a great day for teachers and administrators who want to take a closer look at the use of so-called Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. And it’s not simply a sit a get workshop…attendees may choose from four concurrent 90 minute sessions (two sessions before and two sessions after lunch) that will offer hands-on experiences for creating and using blogs, RSS, podcasts, and more. Participants are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptops for the best hands-on experience.

The day will feature Steve Dembo who will lead sessions as well as the luncheon keynote. Also presenting is Ben from The Tech Savvy Educator. More sessions are being added so make sure to check back to the official conference web page.

Blogs won’t be here forever

Something from Will Richardson’s presentation last week at the MACUL conference is worth taking a closer look at.

He stated that blogs might go away, but the idea behind blogs will not.   What is the “idea behind blogs?”  It’s the same idea that proponents of more student writing have said before…authentic audiences motivate students to write.  What makes student blogs different (better?) is that the authentic audience has the potential of being millions of people.  Not just a few parents or the local Rotary Club, but millions of people with incredibly diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Politicians often rationalize technology initiatives by saying “We’re educating our students for the future, they need to know how to use technology for their future professions.  It’s not the technology that they need to know how to use.  They can use it already…a lot better than your local representative.  The connections and community-building that can occur within student blogs is what they need to know how to do.

The Future of Blogs

Will Richardson is beginning his third of four sessions today…he’s going to be pooped out today! I just received his book on Tuesday…it looks good so I’m anxious to take a closer look at it.

Handouts to the presentation at http://webloggedlinks.pbwiki.com. The password (if you want to edit) is rww.

There are almost 14 million active bloggers…
1.2 million posts a day…

The vast majority of educators don’t know about blogs…certainly not RSS, wikis, podcasts etc. Not only don’t they know what they are, but then they don’t know what they could do with them with their students.

There are, however, voices of transformation…story of a student who was awestruck that his blog was being read in Shanghai, China. Quotes from ?, Ann Davis, Darren Kuropatwa, Konrad Glogowski.

The use of blogs is to teach kids to teach others…the content that they are absorbing. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, but nothing quantitative. What are the benefits to blogging?

  • Motivation
    Paper is worthless, it goes in the trash when the year is over. Thinking of MySpace…kids are motivated to publish information
  • Writing Skills
    The audience has increased and kids are thinking more about what they’re writing and reflecting upon.
  • Reading Skills
    Writing begins with reading
  • Connective Learning
  • Learning by Community Building

Examples Sites:

Is the blog future bright? What’s going to happen with them? There are a lot of obstacles:

  • Fear (of Technology)
    Solution: Better teacher training (new and old)
  • Fear (Safety)
    Solution: Education specific tools
  • Fear (of Change)
    Solution: Small Steps (Read blogs)
  • Time
    Solution: ???
  • Lack of Research
    Solution: Research
  • Lack of Support
    Solution: Easy Tools and Hosting

So what is the future? Web publishing is not going away. If you have access, you can learning anything you want to learn.

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs)…Elgg, Moodle, others

Blogs might go away, but the idea behind blogs will not…

Whew! Good presentation, time for comments.