Category Archives: necc2009

ISTE SIGML Video about Mobile Learning


To gear up for its first annual video contest, SIGML just posted a short video about its Forum at the 2009 NECC Conference in Washington DC. Participants used mobile phones, QR codes, and digital content to explore the World War II Memorial and learn about its importance today:

An Update on NECC 2009: SIGML Forum (We Found Kilroy!)


Ran across this posting on the Ning group by Helen Crompton this morning, who was one of our volunteers at the SIGML forum at NECC in DC:

I have been asked to explain more about the NECC WWII session. For the session we had to have phone with internet connection. The session began with a quick history of the WWII memorial the design and some opposition incountered towards the memorial. As a quick overview we were then given a leaflet that told us to go to certain parts of the memorial, when we reached those parts we looked at our leaflet, read the short information there, then used the program Scanlife on our phones to scan the code for that section in our leaflets. The code took us to a web page or a sound file etc. giving us more details about that part of the monument.
While we were doing this there were a group of students being lectured to by a tour guide and they were more interested in what we were doing with the phones.
We have iTouches in school and I could download the app, they could then connect to the local wifi. I could use this to send the students off on a tour in the classroom getting them to work through problems on many subjects. If they went on a tour to the museum I could plan beforehand, they could find the artifacts and after scanning they could find out further information, or even listen to me as I tell them that they need to pay particular attention to.
I could go on forever with tasks I can set with this tool. Even young children could use this tool and it could connect to sound files.

I was especially pleased that she wrote the sentence I highlighted above. Goes to show what the power of mobile devices for students is these days. Thanks Helen!!!

NECC 2009: Hall Davidson on Mobile Phones


From Banned to Planned: Cell Phones in Schools” is the title of Hal Davidson’s spotlight session this year (session materials are here). I figured I’d go see him again this year as I really enjoyed his talk at NECC 2008 in San Antonio. The room seemed emptier than last year, which seems a little odd, as there has been a lot of talk about mobile phones and mobile learning at NECC this year (however, more people did enter during the session, which was quite entertaining).

Hall compared NECC 2008  and 2009, 2 cell phone sessions as compared to 13 this year!!

Hall Davidson first mentioned polleverywhere and Liz Kolb’s book on cellphones. He then proceeded to give Liz a call, and talked with her about Hall asked Liz about her favorite site and she mentioned and how some teachers she knows use the tool. Lots of shameless plugs here, but some useful resources as well…

Rethink, return, rename: Why are we still calling our mobile phones cell phones? In Korea and other parts of Asia the device is called a hand phone (hence many of the advertisements there show a hand holding a phone). In Japan it’s called a “keitai”: a device that’s with you all the time: “snug and intimate technosocial tethering .. a mundane presence in everyday life” (quote from the Personal, Portable, Pedestrian book).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is covered by mobile phones, according to Davidson (ironic but true):

  • basic physiological needs: order pizza
  • safety and security: anti-bullying friend
  • belonging: texting, networking
  • esteem:
  • self-actualization: turn your phone off

Mobile: It’s America: free speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble (mob!!), petition the government. As compared for example to how these freedoms are currently being stifled in Iran, following its presidential election.

So what name should we give a mobile phone? Telepotent? Telemundo? Some answers that are given via polleverywhere are communicator, telemanager, infophone, …..

Challenge-based learning: finding answers to questions, basically… (not sure how this is so different from problem-based or inquiry-based learning, other than that you could potentially get your answers quicker).

The new student skills: national texting competition: texting the alphabet backwards, texting the Gettysburg Address while being distracted, text and dodge. The point is: students like their phones.

Shows qik and how you can embed it in Google Earth, pretty cool stuff…

Notion that a cell phone is different: it’s an input, output, and analysis device.

Shows Shazam, the music recognition software.

Shows QR codes! Example: CAOS Living Book, a book of QR codes that’s constantly updated, because the data behind the QR codes is updated. I wonder if he knows about the SIGML forum from yesterday.

Using QR codes for assignments is a possibility, and Hall also showed an example of codes that will then show 3d images on a computer screen.

Amazon has acquired an image recognition technology company. Hall described a scenario where you could take a picture with your phone of a pair of shoes somebody has, and Amazon can then hook you up with the same pair.

Called Vicki Davis who was presenting in another session. She didn’t pick up, but Hall had one of her videos that shows how you can determine mobile phone technologies for classroom use. CPA: cost per assignment use.

Joe Fatheree (at the session): talked about how he started using mobile phones in his classroom, when he found out how a kid one day shot a video using just his mobile phone.

Need to create a pathway to success:

  • brainstorm how to use phones with kids (link to standards) -> action plan
  • work with administrator next to find a way to make this work
  • communicate with parents: letter and parent survey (find out what phone plans they have)

Location-based teachable moments in student lives. Text a writing prompt as an assignment.

All in all another entertaining session and a great way to wrap up NECC this year, well almost.

Image Credit: Rob Pettit:

NECC 2009: PlacePuzzles


Notes from Bernie Dodge’s Wednesday morning session. He’s a confessed map nerd.

How can we use maps in a way that takes pedagogical sense and doesn’t take a lot of effort to do?

It’s all about place, it’s a powerful idea. It’s a way to glue things together and a motivator.

Spatial ability is located in your hippocampus in the brain.

Method of loci: memorization by association, by connection with place.

Geocaching and scavenger hunts as a way to use place.

PlacePuzzle: a way to do it faster and easier, but does not require the project-based and higher level work that a traditional WebQuest does.

map-based activity designed to encourage close reading of a complex text. It uses a limited physical space to provide a context for learning and includes short answer clues that require recall and creative interpretation.

Critical attributes:

  • resources to be studied ahead of time
  • map of a related place of limited size (walkable distance, maybe short drivable)
  • clues on the map that relate the map to the resources and require both recall and ideation

Optional attributes:

  • scores kept based on speed and accuracy
  • roles to divide up the reading
  • publicly posted leaderboard
  • clues made available one at a time based on performance
  • communication channel allowing players to communicate in real time.

Example: “chaos in Tehran”. Become familiar with significant places and people in the capital of Iran.


  • Intro
  • Links to read first
  • Map
  • Communication channel (tinychat)

The real shoe-string way is to use tools like Google Maps, Google Sites, Google Docs, tinychat (and maybe Google Wave in the future).

Example: Watergate

Clue Possibilities:

  • Visual: Google Street View
  • Visual: Photos from panoramio
  • Text: wikipedia
  • Proximity: What’s nearby

Resources for writing clues for scavenger hunt clues galore on the web: it’s like backwards design.

Curricular opportunities:


  • timed special event
  • self-promotion
  • interschool competition/collaboration

Design steps:

  • Pick topic
  • Identify resources
  • Pick locations
  • Define clues

Dodge is working on an interface for this.

Inside or outside? It can be done in both ways (but I think the outdoor version will have more of an impact). The indoor version is being developed first. Dodge added to this the fact that we may be raising a generation of kids that tend to be indoor people. However, he did say that the power of PlacePuzzles will be the outdoors version, with the projected growth of mobile learning. will have tutorials, examples, authoring tools, and a forum. Will be live on July 21, 2009, 3:59 pm PDT (really!!).

Image credit:

NECC 2009: SIGML Forum (We Found Kilroy!)


We held our SIGML Forum (NECC 2009) at the World War II Memorial in Washington DC this afternoon. The weather helped us out as a thunderstorm moved through BEFORE we started. Using a set of QR codes we had created to provide about 25 participants with digital content related to various parts of the memorial, we asked them to do the following:

The U.S. National World War II Memorial is a National Memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. While many people agree that this is an important monument, critics have argued that

  • its location breaks up the view between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial;
  • the monument takes up space historically used for demonstrations; and
  • that its architecture resembles the architecture of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.
Your task is to come up with a compelling argument that demonstrates the importance of the World War II Memorial today.

Use your mobile phones to access supplementary digital content, using the QR codes in this booklet. In addition, you may use
your mobile phone to collect evidence in and around the memorial. We will leave it up to you as to how you want to do that.

Participants noted that the experience they had at the memorial was very different from just walking through it. They tended to spend more time at different parts of the monument, and I think they got a better understanding of its importance and its meaning, judging from the discussion we had afterwards. I also noticed that during the debrief nobody talked about what didn’t work (and we did run into some glitches during the event), but all feedback focused on the learning that had taken place. Some other comments that were made included the importance of becoming more literate and fluent in the use of audio and video (not just text), and that the event showed some real possibilities of mobile learning.

We shot a bunch of video and took pictures, and will create a short video of the event in the next couple of days. We’ve posted the QR codes online. More on this to follow shortly.

Oh yes, and we did find Kilroy 🙂

NECC 2009: Opening Keynote Malcolm Gladwell

Notes from the NECC 2009 Opening Keynote with Malcolm Gladwell. Just some general ones, as my laptop battery died about halfway through. The live blogging of the keynote is here, here, and hereScott McLeod posted a few more useful links, including this critique by “Bummer Boy”. Liz Davis wonders how to put Gladwell’s ideas into practice.

Update: Curriki now has a summary of the keynote.

“I never talk about something that my audience knows more about than I do…”

So he starts out by talking about Fleetwood Mac…. 😉 and uses it as an example for what it means to become successful and what meaningful learning is

Mastery takes a long time: 10,000 hour rule, i.e. 4 hours a day for 10 years to master something, e.g. like chess, music. Many people underestimate how much this really is.

“Behind learning there has to be an attitude of effort”, so how do we communicate this attitude to our kids? E.g. being good at math is not an innate talent, it’s a matter of effort.

You build on your failures, not your successes. You compensate rather than capitalize. For example, how do you get through school if you’re dyslexic?  You learn leadership skills such as delegating or problem solving.

In all, the keynote was good and entertaining, but I sort of missed hearing at least a little bit about how digital tools can and should play a role in all of this, both inside and outside of school.  This is especially in regards to the central question of the keynote:  “How can we create learning environments where people can flex their compensation muscle as well as their capitalization muscle?”

NECC 2009: Sunday Leadership Symposium (Working Groups)

Notes from group 1:  “Access to High-Quality Learning Experiences”:

What would it look like to achieve this goal:

All students have access to high quality, rigorous learning experiences

  • Access to technology and personal devices
  • Administrator support
  • Focus on what kids are going to do. Learning has to be truly ubiquitous with guided practice and leadership. Harness the learning that goes on despite of school
  • Customizable learning environments that are student-driven
  • Globally connected
  • Complex projects
  • Broadband access with individual student devices and unfiltered access.
  • Student-centered
  • Equity of access
  • Hands-on activity, collaboration, student-produced knowledge
  • Personalized learning determined by students
  • Different paradigm for a place called school/classroom (learning space? Could be space and time)
  • Opportunities for teachers to learn
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Authentic, nothing seems above us, one-click, creative and critical thinking, directed, differentiated, multimedia, continuous, customized, Pre-K – 90 learning

Mike Kozak comments:

Importance of 1:1, device doesn’t matter!!!!! Students and teachers need the tools. 1:1 is becoming more of an expectation. Research shows that engagement and motivation goes up. For intervention strategies, 80% of improvement is at the student level.

Bandwidth: Access is key!

Online Education: mostly post-secondary now, spiral this down to K-12.

Opening Education Resources (OER): content, tools, and software. Biggest hurdle is time to find, explore, and integrate.


Best Best Recommendations from table groups:

  • Powerful, real-time, collection tool
  • We propose the creation of an education-system supported, high-quality cross-cultural collaboration system, like the eTwinning program in Europe or the Flat Classrooms Project, that provides for synchronous and asynchronous, formal and informal,  classroom-to-classroom and student-to-student collaboration with an emphasis on participating in real-world issues.
  • More focus on using technology skills (application), not the skills themselves.
  • PK-90, Continuous, Individualized, standards-based Learning.
  • Bandwidth, access, focus on learning experiences.
  • We need to engage in a revolutionary system that is more open and transparent  for both teachers and students.  
  • Use White Spectrum to provide online access for schools and libraries and museums within their community. Take this cost out of school budgets and make it part of the overall infrastructure. (Stan Silverman) This is already paid for by the public. Use devices that students have now and that their families own (use cell phones for student response systems in the class rather than buying student response systems). Make school buildings available for learning by community members outside of school hours or school days so there is true lifelong learning. Let grannies and teens learn how to do things they want to learn, side by side and from each other.
  • Personalized, customizable, and flexible learning environment based on national standards that includes access to any type of technology and resources needed.
We need a comprehensive online system, securing the white space spectrum, incorporating and supporting 21st Century skills, accessible anywhere anytime, that incorporates the capabilities for a personalized, flexible learning plan, cross-cultural collaboration, authentic performance assessment, and open learning resources.
This is step one of what will be a long process of sorting and sifting.