Monday, June 28, 2010

A question seeking your definition!

At a time when I feel we should be doing everything we can to leverage the ability of our networks for all they are worth for the education of our students, I found out today that we have such a long way to go in just understanding what we do. With that in mind and before I go on a rant, would you please answer this question?

How do you define the role of the Technology Coordinator at your school, district or state?

Please no word play or semantics. Don't have one but you have a director then how would you define a technology coordinator?

Your help is greatly appreciated. And I will keep your names out of it unless you tell me otherwise.

So much to learn and so little time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Language and credibility

I had a great time at the 4th Edubloggercon at ISTE10 and I thank Steve Hargadon for all of his hard work. I also thank ISTE for being willing to provide us the space to gather and talk about those things that are of interest to us. The whole venue gave many people the opportunity to come together and to interact.

Today I have read a few posts about Edubloggercon, one of them here by Steven Anderson, and this has caused me to do even more thinking about some of the things that took place as well as some of the things I took away. It is important that we have the connections that we have. I didn't know the origins of the term PLN but after some searching I came across this post by David Warlick that might be beneficial to any who reads this as well as the links that David includes in that post.

Disclosure #1 I have used the term PLN to refer to anyone that I connect with in any form or fashion that has helped me to grow or has been an influence in my life.

Diclosure #2 - I have achieved the status of friend with many of those same people both here and abroad as a result of the connections through social media.

Disclosure #3 - Some of those same people I am able to say that I would defend to the death.

Yesterday as Jon Becker facilitated his conversation, I saw passion and defensiveness as people defended their use of a simple term that means so many things to so many different people. I never took away any ideas that there was controversy as a result of or as a part of the discussion. To me it was merely grown ups having a grown up conversation that for me took my thinking to a depth that stirs my thoughts and on ocassion my soul. While this was not one of those soul stirring moments it was very thought provoking especially when someone asked the question what gives language it's credibility?

Disclosure #4 There are any number of people that could handle this discussion better than I, but this is my post.

We see so many words come and go in the English language, words introduced to the dictionary as a result of the use of that word or phrase, but what depth does it bring to the language? Their was not a person there, in my humble opinion, that has not used the term and truly understood it to be something very meaningful to them. I guess my problem after doing some thinking is that when we walk into the vendor hall tomorrow, how many of those terms that have been coined via our networks are we going to be using for our buzzword bingo games? We will complain about the vendors using buzz word after buzz word, but how dare anyone question my use of the terms I want to use?

Adults having adult conversations with a final hope of stirring each one of us to think a little deeper. In 5 years what will that word mean, what type of credibility will it have, what legitimacy for the English language? You are in my network, you help me to think, you allow me to celebrate life with you, you allow me to mourn with you, and allow me to give you some bit of comfort in my response back to you. We joke and kid and post pics of what we are eating.

Each of you makes me aware of so many things each day, but you are not alone. Because of my work in a school, in a district, in a state, and in a Diocese, I also am allowed to do the same things with so many people and you also get to glean some of those things from me because I bring them to other tables as well if I deem them worthy to share.

I have no way to wrap this up and make it tidy, but know I count on a lot of people and I hope that people know they can count on me. But what does give what we do credibility? What gives what we say credibility? If a simple term that I use causes people to reject my next sentence, maybe it is time that we looked deeper into how we use language and how we express ourselves.

Your thoughts?

So much to learn and so little time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sipping vs Guzzling - ISTE 2010

I attended my first ISTE then NECC in Seattle in 1997. I paid for the opportunity to work with a great bunch of Seattle folks to learn how to properly terminate and pull both Cat 5 and fiber optic cable. We then pulled the connectivity throughout the Convention Center and work rooms for sessions and the actual convention. I learned so much and enjoyed getting to know people that we worked with, even getting to pull fiber optic cable up in the catwalk of the center. That year there were three T-1's coming in to the convention center and that was mainly for the vendors. we left all the cabling in place and then the CC was torn down 2 years later as Seattle built a new state of the art facility.

This year as I head to ISTE 2010, I wonder if the Convention Center knows who is coming to town and what is about to happen? Sure they have been working with ISTE and the University of Oregon prepping long and hard but do they really know this group of folks? While not all of the attendees are on the bleeding edge, many of these people are carrying laptops, wireless devices in their pockets and they will not be there sipping connectivity. These people will be guzzling at the trough of wireless connectivity. This is a group that uses streaming video, social networking for back channels, email, voicemail, cloud applications and I am sure many other things that I have not even mentioned here.

I am sure that if we had some way of being in what we called the War Room in Seattle in 1997, we might hear the equivalent of the Death Star dying on Monday. The question will be are the systems in place to handle the 15,000 members of the Geek Squad (with apologies to Best Buy) that are about to hit town and fully expect connectivity for every device they are carrying at the same time? I hope so otherwise I am sure the negativity on the evaluations will be loud and long.

I look forward to seeing folks and I look forward to the learning and conversations. May our connections be fast and strong.

So much to learn and so little time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SummerSpark to CMK2010 - Where are you learning?

Last week I attended SummerSpark 2010 hosted by The Oakridge Academy in Arlington Texas. It gave me a chance to meet Jason Kern (also known as @jasonmkern on Twitter) face to face and see the good things he is doing at Oakridge as well as spend some great time with Christian Long before his family moves to Ohio. While this was the first time for Oakridge to host this event about 60 people were there and as always there was Twitter chatter and back channeling going on while the keynotes were happening.

I sent out a tweet saying "how is it that teachers continue to pull out the same lesson plans when they have not met their students yet? Just a thought. " This tweet was then picked up by Shelly Blake-Plock, also known for his Teach Paperless twitter name and blog and he wrote about my tweet here.

While I would love to take credit for that tweet being my original thinking I can't. That statement was made by Alfie Kohn while speaking at Gary Stager's Creating Modern Knowledge in Manchester, NH two summers ago. It is a statement that has resounded in my thinking ever since I heard it. Shelly has some good things to say about it at his blog so I urge you to visit there.

But more important is this question: Have you considered attending Gary Stager's CMK 2010? Either the one day version before ISTE 2010 in Denver or his four day event in Manchester? If not why not? Some of the best minds will be in New Hampshire with Gary. The other thing I took away was creating workspace for students and then letting them do exactly that work the way they want to work, and create and solve. I laughed seeing some of the adults that were there struggling because they wanted more direction, more instruction.

So often we want to walk students step by step because WE have so much WE want to cover and yet do not give the students the time to "tinker" or "play" because that is not in the curriculum. It is time we all met our kids before we structured up the environment so that we too can learn something about them as people and not just heads in a room where we teach a subject. I hope you seriously consider CMK it will be worth your time.

Where are you doing your learning this summer?

So much to learn and so little time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Technology and elderly parents

Well needless to say I am already behind on the month of June daily challenge to blog which started here. But the good thing is I don't want to write if I really don't have anything to say or don't truly feel the need, so maybe I am not geared for these types of challenges. Anyway I do have some thoughts and questions.

I will be the first to admit that I am very fortunate to have both my parents still with us on this earth. Right before Christmas they moved back to Dallas and are only 1 mile from my house which is great. The other day my older brother went with them to meet one of my dad's younger sisters for lunch and she mentioned that she had an email address. This apparently got my dad's interest up as he mentioned to my older brother that he wouldn't mid learning some computer so as to be able to email. My mom on the other hand worked with technology for the public school system in Dallas and when she retired she said she never wanted to see another computer. Unfortunately at this stage she is suffering from the early stages of dementia.

This got me to thinking what kind of technologies could I help my dad obtain and use that would help us to help them and also to be something that my father would enjoy using? As I thought about it my dad tries not to spend any money at all so my first thought was I have an extra laptop. But then I thought about an iPad. Sure it is the latest thing on the market but I got to thinking that if we got him a 3G iPad, he could have a gmail account, a solid state drive, he could have apps to remind him of things he needed or wanted to do and he could email his younger sister.

Then I got to thinking, what other technologies would benefit an elderly couple and help their children to be a little more comfortable in some of the ways to monitor their aging parents. I hope you have some ideas to contribute. Let me know what you think.

So much to learn and so little time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A response to a challenge

On Monday, Memorial Day, a challenge was thrown out by this Blog - to write everyday for the month of June and become better at blogging. So I am entering the challenge.

With ISTE 2010 coming this month I am already getting excited and actually looking forward to getting to Denver. Texas is already starting to heat up and I am worried that we will have another summer like the summer of 1980. That was the year we had 59 straight days over 100 degrees. Let's hope not.

For those going to Denver there have already been several posts about what to do when you get to the conference. Beth Still has been very vocal in leading the charge to help "newbies" to the conference or those who are there for the first time or maybe even a second time but still unsure as to what to do or where to go.

I truly believe that one of the things that happens to many of us who attend is that our school pays for us, and we feel very obligated to see as much as possible to take back to our schools and that means back to back to back sessions with no time to truly reflect.

After 12 different NECC/ISTE events, I can assure you that you must take time to reflect, talk, relax and renew yourself while you learn. Yes you will still go back a better person for having gone and you will be able to help your school move forward. Trust yourself. Learn by listening, asking questions, talking to people you don't know, be willing to reach out to others and enjoy yourself.

The boat show of a vendor hall will be full of people all talking about how their product will cure what ails education at your place by using the the latest buzz words associated with education. Don't get me wrong, I talk to MY vendors and I also walk the entire hall over the three days there but I go in with an idea in mind. Have a focus on what you want to find out and then go for it. Not all at one time, spread it out.

When your head starts to swim or your eyes start to glaze over, sit down relax, visit the Blogger's Cafe and meet some folks and decompress. You will survive. I also look forward to meeting you so don't be shy.

Lots to learn and so little time.