Monthly Archives: May 2007

One Year of Ubiquitous Thoughts


365 days, 107 posts, 1 year of ubiquitous thoughts. What started out as an experiment to see how hard it would be to do actually turned into somewhat of a habit. I have to say though, that blogging on a regular basis has become somewhat of a challenge lately. I just don’t have to time to do it so extreme blogging is definitely not in the picture. Besides, I like my day job too much, so I’ll just keep that one. Blogging has been a great experience so far and I plan to continue, especially with regards to exploring its use in K-12 classroom settings.

I won’t reflect too much here on what my favorite posts are, I already did that at the beginning of this year, and everybody has their own favorites anyway. I will say that blogging has caused me to both read and write more (even when I don’t blog regularly). It is also a good outlet for ideas that will often lead to other pieces, such as this one.

I skim a lot of blogs in my feedreader, probably too many. There are a few I follow regularly though, such as danah boyd, Jeff Utecht, Will Richardson, Wes Fryer, Vicki Davis, and Julie Lindsay, just name a few. I’ve also really gotten into the whole Web 2.0 thing, even if it was just to keep up with my favorite soccer team, PSV Eindhoven, or the Dutch national team 😉, or maintaining ISTE’s Handheld SIG wiki.

One year down, hopefully many more to go. It’s been an interesting ride so far…

Image Credit: “Birthday Cake”; Kaptain Kobolds photostream:

K12 Online Conference: Call for Proposals

K-12 Online

Announcing the second annual “K12 Online” conference for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice! This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26 of 2007, and will include a preconference keynote during the week of October 8. This years conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries.” A call for proposals is below.

There will be four “conference strands”– two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday – Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two-weeks. Each presentation will be given in any of a variety of downloadable, web based formats and released via the conference blog ( and archived for posterity.

Week 1
Strand A: Classroom 2.0
Leveraging the power of free online tools in an open, collaborative and transparent atmosphere characterises teaching and learning in the 21st century. Teachers and students are contributing to the growing global knowledge commons by publishing their work online. By sharing all stages of their learning students are beginning to appreciate the value of life long learning that inheres in work that is in “perpetual beta.” This strand will explore how teachers and students are playing with the boundaries between instructors, learners and classrooms. Presentations will also explore the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes.

Strand B: New Tools
Focusing on free tools, what are the “nuts and bolts” of using specific new social media and collaborative tools for learning? This strand includes two parts. Basic training is “how to” information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers. Advanced training is for teachers interested in new tools for learning, looking for advanced technology training, seeking ideas for mashing tools together, and interested in web 2.0 assessment tools. As educators and students of all ages push the boundaries of learning, what are the specific steps for using new tools most effectively? Where “Classroom 2.0″ presentations will focus on instructional uses and examples of web 2.0 tool use, “New Tools” presentations should focus on “nuts and bolts” instructions for using tools. Five “basic” and five “advanced” presentations will be included in this strand.

Week 2
Strand A: Professional Learning Networks
Research says that professional development is most effective when it aims to create professional learning communities — places where teachers learn and work together. Using Web 2.0 tools educators can network with others around the globe extending traditional boundaries of ongoing, learner centered professional development and support. Presentations in this strand will include tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; concrete examples of how the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs) are being used; how to create a supportive, reflective virtual learning community around school-based goals, and trends toward teacher directed personal learning environments.

Strand B: Obstacles to Opportunities
Boundaries formalized by education in the “industrial age” shouldn’t hinder educators as they seek to reform and transform their classroom practice. Playing with boundaries in the areas of copyright, digital discipline and ethics (e.g. cyberbullying), collaborating globally (e.g. cultural differences, synchronous communication), resistance to change (e.g. administration, teachers, students), school culture (e.g. high stakes testing), time (e.g. in curriculum, teacher day), lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, control (e.g. teacher control of student behavior/learning), solutions for IT collaboration and more — unearthing opportunities from the obstacles rooted in those boundaries — is the focus of presentations in this strand.

This call encourages all, experienced and novice, to submit proposals to present at this conference via this link. Take this opportunity to share your successes, strategies, and tips in “playing with boundaries” in one of the four strands as described above.

Deadline for proposal submissions is June 18, 2007. You will be contacted no later than June 30, 2007 regarding your status.

Presentations may be delivered in any web-based medium that is downloadable (including but not limited to podcasts, screencasts, slide shows) and is due one week prior to the date it is published.

Please note that all presentations will be licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

As you draft your proposal, you may wish to consider the presentation topics listed below which were suggested in the comments on the K-12 Online Conference Blog:

  • special needs education
  • Creative Commons
  • Second Life
  • podcasting
  • iPods
  • video games in education
  • specific ideas, tips, mini lessons centered on pedagogical use of web 2.0 tools
  • overcoming institutional inertia and resistance
  • aligning Web 2.0 and other projects to national standards
  • getting your message across
  • how web 2.0 can assist those with disabilities
  • ePortfolios
  • classroom 2.0 activities at the elementary level
  • creating video for TeacherTube and YouTube
  • google docs
  • teacher/peer collaboration

The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who is distinguished and knowledgeable in the context of their strand. Keynoters will be announced shortly.

This year’s conveners are:

Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is known internationally for his ability to weave the use of online social tools meaningfully and concretely into his pedagogical practice and for “child safe” blogging practices. He has more than 20 years experience in both formal and informal education and 13 years experience in team building and leadership training. Darren has been facilitating workshops for educators in groups of 4 to 300 for the last 10 years. Darren’s professional blog is called A Difference ( He will convene Classroom 2.0.

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, a 20-year educator, has been a classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, and digital learning consultant. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching graduate and undergraduate preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where she is also completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. In addition, Sheryl is co-leading a statewide 21st Century Skills initiative in the state of Alabama, funded by a major grant from the Microsoft Partners in Learning program. Sheryl blogs at ( She will convene Preconference Discussions and Personal Learning Networks.

Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change agent. With respect to school change, he describes himself as a “catalyst for creative educational engagement.” His blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” was selected as the 2006 “Best Learning Theory Blog” by eSchoolnews and Discovery Education. He is the Director of Education Advocacy (PK-20) for AT&T in the state of Oklahoma. Wes blogs at ( Wes will convene New Tools.

Lani Ritter Hall currently contracts as an instructional designer for online professional development for Ohio teachers and online student courses with eTech Ohio. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who served in many capacities during her 35 years as a classroom and resource teacher in Ohio and Canada. Lani blogs at ( Lani will convene Obstacles to Opportunities.

If you have any questions about any part of this, email one of us:
Darren Kuropatwa: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com
Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach: snbeach {at} cox {dot} net
Lani Ritter Hall: lanihall {at} alltel {dot} net
Wesley Fryer: wesfryer {at} pobox {dot} com

Please duplicate this post and distribute it far and wide across the blogosphere. Feel free to republish it on your own blog (actually, we’d really like people to do that ;-) ) or link back to this post (published simultaneously on all our blogs).

Conference Tag: K12online07

Why communication is important…


Found this story via Darren Kuropatwa’s blog. It’s called “Safety v. Panic“, a powerful, personal experience about what can go wrong with the use of technology for teaching and learning when people don’t communicate. I fully agree with Darren’s comments that

Maybe if everybody tried talking to each other before they started pointing fingers they might learn from each other, understand each other better, figure out a way to meet everyone’s needs better and maybe, just maybe, the kids would have really learned something … and it would have stuck.

This is exactly the stuff I wrote about in my recent Innovate article (free registration required) on building relationships with technology and kids, but on a much broader scale. It’s easy to point fingers, ban, sue, and punish. This type of attitude also takes up a lot of valuable resources (time, money….) that would be better spent on, say … educating?

Read the original post and the comments, read Darren’s comments, and let me know what you think …

Image Credit: “Purpura”, Danella manera’s photostream:

Inquire, Learn, Reflect

hillelmemorial.jpg                             alison-krause.jpg

And so our “May 4 remembrance begins” … That’s the title of the article in yesterday’s Kent Stater. Early May is always kind of an interesting time of year at Kent State University. It’s the end of the semester, and the weather is usually nice. However, it’s also a time of reflection because of the May 4 Remembrance.

For those of you who may not know, on May 4, 1970, four students were shot and killed, and nine others wounded by the National Guard during a protest about the Vietnam War. To this day, there is no clarity on what exactly happened and if an order to fire was ever given, and it is still a subject of great controversy 37 years after it happened. This year that’s even more the case, given the recent news coverage about the release of an audio tape that supposedly proves that an order to fire was actually given.

The best-known artifact of the May 4 shootings is probably this picture:


 I was almost 2 years old when the shootings took place and living in the Netherlands, where I learned about the events of this fateful day from my World History classes in high school. I vividly remember seeing this image in my history book.

This year the remembrance will be even more somber, as not only the Kent State shootings will be remembered, but also the recent events at Virginia Tech, and there will be a display of boots to visually represent the losses in Iraq.

Our University will be closed at noon for the remembrance events. I will be in the Commons. Speakers this year include Tom Hayden, Cindy Sheehan, and US Representative for the 17th district Tim Ryan.

 For more in depth information about the events of May 4, 1970, there are plenty of Internet resources. Here are a few of the good ones (see, there is some technology in this post after all):

Wikipedia entry on May 4, 1970

May 4 collection at the Kent State Libraries

Kent State’s May 4 Taskforce

Image Credits:

“Hillel Memorial” and “Allison Krause” by myself (May 4, 2007).

Wikipedia: (the original image was taken by John Filo, who won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for this image)

Special Issue of Educational Technology Magazine on Mobile Computing

Phil Vahey (SRI International) and I co-edited a special issue of Educational Technology Magazine on highly mobile computing. I’m very happy with the way the issue came out, as it has a number of quality articles from well-known researchers in the field of mobile computing. The issue contains the following articles (note that I’ve posted three of the articles online, if you want the entire issue you’ll need to order it from the publisher. There is some rumor though that the entire issue may be posted online this summer. I’ll keep you posted on that one. In the meantime, enjoy!

 Educational Technology Magazine, vol. 47, no. 3
Special Issue on Highly Mobile Computing

Introduction to Special Issue
Mark van ‘t Hooft and Philip Vahey (link to article)

Educational Technology for the Mainstream: A call for Designing for Simplicity and Reliability
Cathleen Norris, Namsoo Shin, & Elliot Soloway

Highly Mobile Devices, Pedagogical Possibilities, and How Teaching Needs to Be Reconceptualized to Realize Them
Karen Swan, Annette Kratcoski, & Mark van ‘t Hooft (link to article)

Using Handhelds to Link Private Cognition and Public Interaction
Philip Vahey, Jeremy Roschelle, & Deborah Tatar

Teacher Uses of Highly Mobile Technologies: Probes and Podcasts
Robert Tinker, Paul Horwitz, Stephen Bannasch, Carolyn Staudt, & Tony Vincent

Classroom Connectivity: Increasing Participation and Understanding Inside the Classroom
Stephen Hegedus

What Happens to “Writing Across the Curriculum” with Handheld Devices?
Louise Yarnall, Sara Carriere, Tina Stanford, Carmen Manning, & Bob Melton

Can Handhelds Make a Difference? Lessons Learned from Large and Small Scale Implementations
Christine Tomasino, Kellie Doubek, & Meg Ormiston

Learning Bridges: A Role for Mobile Technologies in Education
Giasemi Vavoula, Mike Sharples, Peter Lonsdale, Paul Rudman, & Julia Meek

In and Beyond the Classroom: Making Informal Learning Truly Ubiquitous with Highly Mobile Devices
Yimei Lin

Handheld Computers in Education: An Industry Perspective
Mark van ’t Hooft and Philip Vahey (link to article)

Blurring Lines with Mobile Learning Games
Eric Klopfer

Creating a Powerful Learning Environment with Networked Mobile Learning Devices
Valerie M. Crawford

Education’s Intertwingled Future
Judy Breck

Pay Attention!


Following Karl Fisch’s series of presentations that have fostered a lot of discussion (see e.g. Karl’s blog), Darren Draper ( Technology Curriculum Specialist in the Jordan School District in Utah) has come up with “Pay Attention” and an accompanying list of resources. Much has already been written about this video, as it has circulated on the web for about a month now (that tells you how far behind in my reading I am!).

Karl Fisch calls it a “conversation starter”, Vicki Davis calls it “powerful and amazing”, etc., etc.

The thing that really caught my eye were a couple of very small parts of the presentation, namely student comments:

We have learned to ‘play school’. We study the right facts the night before the test so we achieve a passing grade and thus become a successful student. 

I’m not attention deficit, I’m just not listening (and we wonder why!!)

When I go to school I have to power down.

I really like this last one as it speaks volumes about what kids are capable of and what we do with them in formal educational settings. Kids want to learn, kids love technology and it’s an essential part of their lives (another student quote from the video: “When you lose your mobile, you lose part of your brain”).  How hard is it to put the two together? Or to put it in Darren’s words, Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as “Digital Learners”, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?

I think a lot of it still has to do with issues of control and fear, as I’ve discussed in my recent Innovate article (open content, but free registration required), David Warlick talked about in his post “Fear & Death! Fear & Death!”, and is a focus of danah boyd’s research. I will be hosting a webcast on this very subject on May 8, 2007, 12 PM EST. If you’d like to talk about this some, please join me then.

Image Credit: “Warning! New Stop Sign Ahead”. laffy4k’s photostream: