Monthly Archives: June 2007

NECC, Day 5, Closing Keynote


This is the first year I’ve made it to more than one keynote and they’ve been great. Here are my notes from the closing keynote, by Dr. Tim Tyson from Mabry Middle School in Marietta, GA. (NOTE: didn’t get to post this until Friday morning, after a post-conference summit and a trip from hell to get home).

School 1.0: maniacal emphasis on rules, rituals, and routines, and right answers.
School 2.0: engaged, self-directed, project driven, independent problem solvers, empowered, learning community 

Meaningfulness, significance, connectedness, contribution (which is moving beyond the first three). Schools can now have access to immediate global distribution (first time ever). Why stick something on a bulletin board if you can show it to the world? & iTunes (serves 1.5 million files per month on avg) People can subscribe to student work through iTunes. 

Principal promises to put stuff on the web if it’s exemplary. So he asks students: “what do you have to say that is so important everybody in the world should hear and see it?” Gets emails from all over the world. Foreigners have visited the school because of this. Kids now have an international voice that matters. This is authentic assessment. “I made an A but I want to keep working on my project. I want to keep learning.” 

The concept of childhood is relatively new. So, when does meaningfulness start? Does it begin when I graduate high school or college? First job, when I start a family? For me (Tyson), it’s right now, today. Have meaningful activities for our students today.

Examples of movies: 

  • e.g. human embryonic stem cell research; field trip to Emory University research lab. Director talked about the pros and cons of doing stem cell research
  • commercialization of pure drinking water
  • child slave labor in Ivory Coast
  • raise money for bednets to protect Africans from malaria
  • captivity of elephants
  • poverty in China
  •  immigration in the US 



Showed a sampling of movies Then two students came on stage to share their experiences making the movies. First student talked about making the movie and having a larger audience.  Second student talked about: “we learn by experience” and the creation of the organ transplant movie. Talked about meeting with transplant surgeons, and how making a movie made her learn more.  

It’s not about technology and connectivity. It’s about collapsing the distance between children and meaningful contribution.  It’s about making a contribution to their day-to-day lives. School needs to prepare kids for more than next year. They want to be prepared to make a contribution today. It’s giving it out instead of taking away.  

Meaningfulness is the product of connectedness, contribution, and sharing.  Children have an untapped capacity to make the world a better place today.  

Movie “Celebrate Achievement” as closing.  

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NECC, Day 5, ‘With Power Comes Responsibility: Online Awareness, Ethics, and Safety’


 Got to this session late, very well attended, so this is an important issue for many (a detailed outline of the presentation and links can be found here. Mark Wagner is talking about inappropriate content, inappropriate sharing, and threats and cyberbullying (MY COMMENTS IN ALL CAPS).   


  • Citizen journalism

  • Citizen police work

  • Threats, suicides, and risky behavior are often reported.

  • Sting operations online

  • “MySpace is safer for teens than predators”

Students do have 1st Amendment rights. Parody is protected. We cannot control students, we can educate them.

Lack of understanding:

  • Fear of the unknown

  • Vilification of technologies by adults who don’t know the technologies

  • DOPA did nothing for adults or kids, but put more work on schools and libraries ( (MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT THIS E.G. HERE AND HERE)

  • Potential for rebellion and destruction of trust

  • Potential

 Legal protections:

Safety tips for students:

  • Don’t share identifying or personal information (privacy for kids is different than it was for us).

  • Do not share provocative images (according to Wagner this is getting better because kids knows parents and schools are looking)

  • Beware of grooming.

  • Consider the consequences and the future.

  • Talk with parents, teachers, or other trusted adults.

Tips for educators:

  • Move computer into shared spaces

  • Watch for alt+tab and alt+F4

  • Check history (is it suspiciously blank?)

  • Beware of reluctance to be candid

Educate yourself:

  • Your kids know more than the news

  • Ask your kids if they’ve been harrassed

  • Ask if they use more than one social network site
    (from Magid and Collier’s MySpace Unraveled)

  • Kids will react strongly to canceled accounts

  • Read the MySpace Terms of Use and Safety Tips

  • Report violations

  • Know the people in your child’s lists

  • View their friends’ profiles

  • Monitor and filter if necessary

Bottom line:

  • communicate with students, parents, other educators, IT, the police

  • confront students who are behaving in irresponsible, inappropriate, or unsafe ways. Do not look the other way.

Take aways:

  • We cannot control students, we can educate them.

  • “Wouldn’t you rather know?”

  • This was a nicely balanced, straight-up presentation, intended to educate, not scare people. It was good to see so many people attended. Wagner also provided a link to a wiki with lots of resources

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NECC, Day 4, Mobile Research Paper Session


Alexiou-Ray, Jennifer: ‘Handheld Use in a Elementary Classroom: Student and Parental Perceptions’. I’m live blogging my co-presenter’s paper here. An overview and link to the full paper can be found here: (my comments in ALL CAPS)

Wanted a 1-to-1 computing model that was cost effective. There is little evidence of effects of handhelds on learning (WHAT KINDS OF EFFECTS??). Also focused on parent reactions to handhelds (INTERESTING, NOT DONE MUCH IN RESEARCH).

Purpose: assessed student and parent perceptions toward the use of handhelds.

Research Questions:

  • Does daily access to handhelds affect student attitudes toward technology?

  • Does it affect student views toward the learning process?

  • How do parents perceive the impact of 1-to-1 computing on student learning?

Fourth and fifth grade students and parents in district in Southeast US with a convenience sample in a fairly affluent area (case study, no experimental grouping, mixed methods).


  • teacher integrated handhelds daily

  • surveys (Computer Attitude Questionnaire; Parental Perception Questionnaire (both adapted from existing), interviews, focus group.

Findings I:

  • High computer and www use at home already.

  • Reliability for the surveys pretty decent, 0.71 and up.

  • Focus group: differences from “traditional” technology; favorite (Sketchy) and least favorite activities; problems encountered (talked about this a lot)

  • No significant differences pre-post in computer importance or enjoyment.

  • Survey: paired comparisons: would rather use computers more than other things such as reading a book, writing, or watching TV.

Findings II:


  • Changes to student learning (MORE MOTIVATION TO LEARN)

  • No significant diffs in quantitative data

Findings III:

  • Didn’t see parent perception changes in student anxiety, computer enjoyment and importance, motivation, or study habits.

  • There was turnover in the school that might have influenced parent answers.

Implications for student learning: students like learning with handhelds, but it didn’t affect their views on computers (handhelds just an added bonus?). Changes to the classroom environment (more project-based). Traditional versus technology instruction. Disadvantages of handhelds.

Future research:

Multiple classes over a long period of time; schools with less access to other technology; qualitative and incremental data from parents; more teachers, larger sample. Handhelds to go home with students (WOW, THEY DIDN’T GO HOME!!! THAT’S A BIG ONE!!).

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and my paper and powerpoint
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NECC, Day 4, Keynote Panel


My notes from this morning’s keynote: 

Intro by Don Knezek, who briefly talked about globalization of education, and that many countries are preparing teachers to work anywhere in the world (importance of languages). In addition, today’s world necessitates the skills to be creative and innovate, on top of technology skills. Our education context and learning landscape have changed. The demands of our students are different.


  • Learn what you can about education around the world.
  • Competence and tech literacy are not sufficient.
  • Learn to operate in a global and multicultural environment
  • Provide leadership and services in this area.

Panel, moderated by Andrew Zolli, about the emerging creative classroom, and how education can foster innovation and creativity.

Mary Cullinane, technology architect, school of the future in Philadelphia. Works for Microsoft to help design this school

  • Learning first, technology later
  • Focus on concept and power of language
  • Be comfortable not knowing

Being able to have creativity in an age of accountability.

Francesc Pedro, OECD, CERI, analyst.

How innovative are countries? Can we compare countries? Talked about indicators like computer use at home by 15 year olds as compared to use at school. The US ranks high on the first but lower on the second. Also, CERI has found that access to computers is extremely important, especially at HOME! Computer with Internet access at school is a little different. In some countries like Japan and Korea it has a negative effect. In the US it has a large positive effect.

So, what’s more important, use at home or in school? In math, use in school has a negative effect, home use has a positive effect. Why? We don’t know (yet).

Michael McCauley, creative director for ProActive, works in f2f marketing of concepts and ideas. His metaphor is to seek out “your cathedrals.” (higher purpose, faith, inspire others).

Elizabeth Streb, choreographer. Interest in movement from a very young age. She invents contraptions (physics and dance):

  • draw out moves
  • embrace failures
  • break the rules
  • set impossible goals

Discovery as a process


Nature of place, new dimensions of place:

Mary C.: failure should be an option. It should be safe to fail (v. accountability today). Second, the concept of ad hoc gathering places (v. keeping them apart or putting them in rows). Students are in school to be with one another.

Elizabeth S.: questioning the difference between public and private. She chose a large garage because of stuff having been invented in environments like that. Also having many people practice together (instead of the idea that artists practice in private).

Michael M.: garage is a great metaphor for the creative process (v. board room, conference room). Importance of mixing things up when creating teams. Every day is difference, you just go.

Francesc P.: educational innovation can be the result of the action of four different things:

  • include doers and users (teachers and learners) in the process of creating innovation
  • ability to network.
  • modularity: ability to work on a modular basis. Being able to build part of a system autonomously.
  • technology: we miss the connection between educational technology, science, and research.

They are all talking about risk and empowerment:

Mary C.: could you imagine if innovation was swimming downstream in schools instead of upstream? So we’ve been trying to lessen the bureacracy but still make it possible for other districts to duplicate what’s being done in Philly (e.g. Microsoft gave no money, just human capital).

Michael, M.: corporate is thirsting for IDEAS. 

Francesc P.: Research on our understanding of the brain.

  • E.g. you should start learning a foreign language as soon as possible.
  • separating boys and girls based on differences in how brains operate. There is no research to support doing this.

Mary C.: working for Microsoft, what is the environment like? It’s a place where individuals are self-critical, asking themselves how they can get better constantly. What if we had this in our schools? We’d have time to think. Thinking and doing are considered the same thing there.

Is there a resource that you’d like everyone to know about?

Michael M.: Dan Pink’s A whole new mind, and Dream society.

Francesc P.: OECD report that’s coming out next week (on the OECD site).

Elizabeth S.: Come to Slam! Go to a bookstore, read all the titles in a section you’re interested in.

Mary C.: remember the word “motive”. What motivates our kids, what ate their obstacles, trends, interests, environment.

Andrew Zolli:

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NECC, Day 3, Tradeshow


I visited the tradeshow at NECC today, as I usually do. Despite the fact that its one of the bigger tradeshows for ed tech, I’ve been pretty disappointed with it in the past two years and this year was no different.

There was too much of this (again):





and not a whole lot of





Can you spot the oxymoron here? Look closely:


And this is the LAST thing I expected to see!


I could have written the same post last year (the proof is in the pudding, as this post on the Handheldlearning forum shows).

So, while this is a somewhat sarcastic look at the tradeshow, it is also a sad reflection of the technology reality in many schools. (management, standardized assessment, blocking/banning). It also makes me wonder how technology priorities are shaped in schools and who they are shaped by. It seems as if the ed tech industry is pushing a lot of the same stuff into schools, without asking teachers and students what it is they REALLY need.

And it hasn’t changed much in the past three years or so… bummer.

Image credits: me, except for the NECC logo.

NECC, Day 3, LOL Part Deux


This session was advertised as a humorous one, and it was funny. I missed the first 15 minutes but here goes. Take it all with a grain (or two) of salt, although there are definitely some kernels of thruth in these presentations: 

I missed the piece by Rockman on SBR

Heidi Rogers: talked about NETS for Parents and tech support for moms. She talked about

  • setting up your own myspace account
  • using an alias
  • monitoring text messaging
  • following the money (e.g. giving kids a credit card)
  • communication by IM instead of cell phone call which is so yesterday.

Using her son as an example, she provided some hilarious accounts of how he uses technology for goofy stuff, and how in turn she uses the same technology to find out what he does.

Michael Jay: New Break-Thru Technologies: Assessment for the Masses

Michael Jay discussed how to put real-time assessment in the hands of educators, and using population data to assess individual learning (great oxymoron!)

Existing solutions he listed were

  • Hand raise
  • Group mumble: clarity inversely related to age.
  • Cull from the herd: look for weakness and probe. Find the weakest kid and probe with questions until crying.

He then laid out his “2 year research project”:

  • Look at all students but accountable for none
  • Leverage existing skills (how true is that one?!)
  • Only a few children left behind
  • (I’m missing a few here)

Jay’s solution: use whistle language. After explaining the history of whistle language and providing the audience with a few sound file examples, he discussed his “findings”:

  • Tests found that many students couldn’t pucker and blow simultaneously
  • Saliva and gum would sometimes escape at high velocity (hair incidents)
  • Whistling was engaging for learners.

 His alternative assessment: the BlowHard Assessment tool:


Note the options for multiple choice; and true, false, and fudge). The audience then proceeded to do some practice questions (link to YouTube video).

Feedback from students in the “research” project included “So much fun I forgot it was a test”, and “that 50-item test took my breath away”.

Implications of the results:

  • With a minor investment, every student can blow their assessment;
  • Easy for administrators to make sure assessment is being conducted;
  • Brings the performing arts back into our schools; harmony in the classroom;
  • inherently aggregated assessment (see the video 😉 )
  • Automatically weighted results (according to Jay, the bad students will sit in the back and so you won’t hear them as much).

Finally, Michael Jay discussed some of his future “projects” including:

  • Pan Pipe Project to increase data granularity;
  • Slide whistle for qualitative analysis;
  • Integrated assessment for animals that echo locate.

This talk was absolutely hilarious and it’s one of the few times I’ve seen Elliot Soloway at a loss for words (well, almost).

Elliot Soloway:

True stories about technology use, such as setting up Tivo, the train at the airport, and setting up a GPS device. He talked about the voices of the devices and how they talk to you, often in a patronizing voice. Especially the one about the GPS device was pretty funny. He was talking to fast to blog it though, and I was out of memory on my camera to video tape it.

The verdict? Despite of what I missed, Michael Jay was by far the funniest 🙂

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Image credit: me, aside from the conference logo I “borrowed” from NECC.

NECC, Day 3, Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing Panel



Great handheld panel this morning moderated by Julie Lindsay. Panelists included Judy Breck, Jan Kelly, Graham Brown-Martin, and Tony Vincent. Here is a recap, blogged live.

Julie Lindsay’s talk. She started by talking about:

The small print of using mobiles

  • Standardization
  • Convergence
  • Affordability
  • Adaptability
  • Acceptable use
  • Learning using technology
  • Living with technology

The HIFE project:

Importance of compatibility, tech support etc. The goal for next year is to broaden the program from one device to multiple devices, making it more student driven with regards to choice of technology use, and making allowances for different learning styles. (I like this idea, as it seems that being device agnostic when it comes to mobile tools is going to be the way to go. That way students can choose what tool to use and how to use it. This takes differences in learning styles into account, and takes the burden off of schools for supplying the hardware).

Julie then showed an example of student work that shows how they envision the use of mobile phones in 2020.

Judy Breck:

Soon, the Internet will be in people’s hands (mobile web), according to the W3C project.

Judy is a proponent of open resources on the Internet.

The mobile web will create personal learning spaces for individuals. It will bring an intertwingled world to individual devices.

Jan Kelly:

Whether you’re a non-user or an expert, if you’re a teacher, you are often told what technology to use and how to use it. Even though standards impact technology use, the technology standards that states have are not tested so maybe not taught.

She proceeded to talk about how with even old and simple mobile devices you can do quite a bit. The key is that you use what works and what you need, given the context you’re working in (e.g. technology or administrative restrictions). It’s about students talking work to their seats, instead of going to the computer (students are not physically tethered to fixed technology.

Technology emerges through what we do; we don’t do what we do because of the technology. Students have a voice in the process, students make choices that will help them in making life-long learning decisions.

Barriers: economics, protective barriers, technology may not align with district technology visions.

A question was raised about recycling devices by corporations. The panel responded that it would be something to look into, but that in the near future with mobile phones there may not be a need to do this because devices will be free or almost free (also means that students, not schools, will provide the devices).

Graham Brown-Martin:

Learning while mobile: not mobile learning. The learner is mobile, the technology follows them.

Vision: every child with a personal computing and communication device within 5 years.

Mission: to make learning personal and universally accessible. Believes that this is achievable using low cost consumer technologies and innovative web programming.

Do this through active online community and largest annual mobile conference.

Then showed video of the Learning2Go Project. Teachers, parents, and kids talked about pride, motivation, access, and learning (independence, collaborative learning, choice).

The landscape in which we operate: by 2012 the death of the desktop as we know it; laptops are on deathrow. Client-server types of models will take over, with clients being mobile (server and data warehouse with a variety of devices conncting).

Tony Vincent

There is a future with lots of different devices, but what about now? Talked about what different devices can and cannot do (Palm, Pocket PC, iPod). Palm has good ed software, syncs with Macs, but hasn’t been updated in two years and have a weak web browser. Pocket PC has StyleTap but cannot be used with Macs. iPods are great for podcasting, has large storage capacity, but has not text entry, and no third party software; also no real student interaction (no input).

Wi-fi is going to be big. Showed the Blazer browser. Talked about free services like mob5 and winklink. iPhones are going more the browser direction, i.e. creating browser-based, not device-based apps.

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