Sunday, May 17, 2009

PLN's, Purity and Flexibility or how my PLN saved my presentation!

On Monday evening, May 11, 2009, I was trying to finish up a wikispaces site for a presentation that I was giving at Region 10 ESC to local region educators. I was using wikispaces and was on my home machine which is a Vista machine upgraded to the latest Internet Explorer browser. It became apparent very quickly that I would not be able to edit the wiki the way I wanted, as I had hoped to merely embed resources in a way that I was taught by David Jakes at the TCEA convention back in February.

After several frustrating attempts I put out a call to my PLN on Twitter for some help as I thought I might have forgotten a step. After posting this tweet I put on my headset as I had given out my Skype name and within minutes, Miguel Guhlin called in and asked what the problem might be? I explained what was going on and he looked things over and made some adjustments to the wiki itself and then asked "What browser are you using and what operating system do you have on your machine?" I responded IE 8 and Vista Business. Miguel's only response was "Download Firefox and use that."

While Miguel and I were talking I received 4 other calls or tweets to see if I needed help or if I had been helped. As I talked or messaged each person, the question was always the same "Are you using Firefox? Why not?" Needless to say once I got off of Skype I went to the Mozilla page and downloaded Firefox and installed it. After having a couple of initial problems with the Firefox browser, which Jen Wagner help me sort, we found out it was a result of the links and cookies imported from IE8. I was up and functioning and working on my wiki with no problems whatsoever.

I have usually been a purist on my machines but have opened up to other options as a result of really being in a bind. While I don't see Microsoft as the evil empire and yes I do want a MBP somewhere down the line (sooner rather than later), I truly wish Microsoft would build things to work better with the available tools that are out there. If you can't be all things to all people, at least make it so that your software works right the first time please.

The power of my network proved it's worth once again and I am always grateful. Are you using your network to it's potential? Are you helping others with their networks? Thanks to all those in my network, as always you people are the best.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Just Summer Professional Development?

As the school year starts to wind down, some people have been asking about where others might get their summer professional development. Last summer I had the opportunity to attend several professional development opportunities and that extended throughout the school year as well. I almost always attend NECC as that is important to my boss and to the future of the school from a technology integration standpoint. I also debated on whether to attend Alan November's BLC '08 or Gary Stager CMK '08. I chose CMK08 and while I can't exactly tell you why, I have absolutely no regrets.

This summer Gary is putting on CMK '09 again being held in Manchester, New Hampshire and has prepared a great lineup. I encourage you to consider this very worthy week long event under the direction of Gary and his great lineup of folks. You want to truly have an opportunity to think, play, reflect, be challenged? This is the place to be in my opinion. Nothing laid out for you step by step, you get to create (exactly what we want our students to do); you get to reflect (another thing we want our students to do); you get to hear some great minds, see some great places and spend some quality time with people who want the same thing - the chance to create modern knowledge together and go back to the classroom with all kinds of great ideas, software and tools.

NECC is just that NECC. You have the chance to explore, cruise the aisle of the largest vendor spectacle around or you can sit in the hallways and participate in true conversations. Between Edublogger Con, Second Life playgrounds, and myriad of sessions that you can either pay for or walk into for free, you have the chance to work and play with people of the same mindset - what can I do to help my students? Don't be afraid to seperate from the herd and learn on your own or by asking questions of those who seem to be in the know, just about all of us want what is best for our students. Whatever you do come up with something more original than "Hey I follow you on Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, etc., etc." Come for the conversations. Come to explore our Capital.

But why just stop with those two? You in Texas or close to East Texas? Scheduled to be featured presenters are Dean Shareski, Alec Couros, and Jennifer Wagner along with great Texas talents Maria Henderson, Stephanie Sandifer, Randy Rogers, the GIS team from Bishop Dunne High School (Christine Voigt & Kyle Stevens), Diana Benner, 2009 TCEA Educator of the Year Pam Cranford, Janet Corder, and Joan Gore. If nothing else come by to see what new dish Mike Gras has cooked up for folks to try. Again chances for good conversation around technology, integration, people and food. Might even have a literacy conversation or two and you never know who might Skype in from the outer reaches of the U.S.A.

But what about during the rest of the year. There are so many good things and the best thing I can recommend is to make sure you don't get in a rut. I branched out last year and went to Educon 2.1 at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia and I can truly say that by far it was the absolute best conference I have attended in my lifetime bar none. True, deep, intensive, free flowing conversations from all involved. The two teachers I took with me were blown away and very grateful for what they experienced.

There is so much professional development all year long from so many people willing to share and stream, and tweet and mogulous, and skype. There are all sorts of people blogging, podcasting and willing to share what they have and do with anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you aren't getting enough professional development, then you aren't making the effort. Don't leave your students behind by not being willing to participate. Their future depends on it. Prpeare them for their future and not what is left of yours. Don't just participate in professional development during the summer, it is waiting for you 24/7/365!

So much to share and participate in. I hope to see you somewhere.