Tag Archives: education

Tell me what to care about …

I’ve had a couple post about trying to sort out online service and what is worth paying attention to. I was happy to sit in on part of Alexandra Samuel‘s session at Northern Voice. In discussing, Coping with Social Media Alexandra hit some of the same things I had been struggling with.

There is just so many ways to contribute, participate and listen over social technology that you really have to pick your spots and, if you really want to drink from the fire hose, have a process in place to handle what will flow back in your direction.

Between the home centred pattern of Amusing Ourselves to Death and the work based Myth of Multitasking there is a real danger of technology reversing all the ‘productivity’ gains that we have supposedly reaped over the last decade. You could almost say that technology is eating its’ own (Long) tail.

From a personal point of view you really need to decide what it important and dump the rest. I’ve been fingered for missing important messages because they got piled under hundreds of lesser bits of noise. With a little technology, I’ve managed to get my inbox and RSS feeds down to a manageable, double-digit, daily traffic count.

The other key has been to get the tools align with a purpose. As a presenter, I’ve always tried to put my focus on who the audience is. What I haven’t done until recently is have my technology set up to provide information for the different situations when I prepared to receive content. That includes setting up different email accounts and use a small (but >1) set of tools for each type of content such as RSS, twitter, and Facebook.

In the end, it is a matter of all things in moderation. I’ve cut my social networks in half this year. Sometimes more isn’t better, it’s just more.

Social Network DTM* list

  • Yelp
  • Friendfeed
  • BrightKite
  • Ning
  • Yammer
  • Google Buzz (kinda dead on arrival actually)
  • Google Wave
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Lastfm

*- Dead to Me


Doodling for fun and learning

Two of the best sessions at Northern Voice were all about the graphical.Now drawing is cool, but I can’t draw. A good gentleman, Scott Leslie, kept the MooseCamp tradition alive with a series of sessions on Friday. The first was Rob Cottingham’s take on Webcomics. That wasn’t a natural fit for me because:

Did I mention, I can’t draw

But Rob really did a nice review of the range of online graphic ‘blogs’ that realy made me think. We are so hung up with words that frequently we don’t give the graphic arts the credibility that it deserves. As an example here’s Rob’s ‘notes’ from the Rachel Smith session

Rob Cottingham

And then, in a nice bit of Symmetry, Rachel shares her own graphic notes from the Friday Keynote: Ninmah Meets World blog>

Rachel Smith's notes from Friday Keynote

I also attended two sessions by my perennial favourite Nancy White. These are always the most engaging sessions I get at the conference. In both sessions Nancy made you do stuff. This is not class participation, I mean you are going to do something. The best was the second on making the invisible – visible. I really liked the quote – if CO2 was dark red and hung in the air – we’d have it cured by now.

We were sent out on a drawing/video/picture exercise about something else at the conference or surroundings. I sat in an another session and attempted to grasp the presentation there in a graphic form.

Field trip from Nancy session

And that is even for people like me that can’t draw.


My Northern Voice Evaluation

Conferences always ask for feedback and the recent North Voice had a post conference Evaluation. In the middle of filling mine out I figured ‘why not share this’, I would hope other attendees would as well.

What was your favourite session and why?
David Ng Science session and Rob Cottingham Webcomics were both at the top of my list.

What session disappointed you and why?
Location mobile apps was a little too one sided and didn’t really have a message beyond this is cool – and the assumption that most/all attendees use Gowalla or 4Square. I want N.Voice to provide reality check on new media tools that include pros and cons.

In terms of session content, what kinds of sessions were the conference missing?
I seemed the local ‘startup’ community wasn’t as prominent at this conference as it has been in previous years. That may be an industry trend but Now Public, Flock, Sxipper, and dozens of others have either presented or been floating around the building.

What was your favourite thing or things about the conference?
The People: The keynotes that draw big names (Dash, Mullenwag, now Messina) are always a reason to go. For me this has become a community that I only get to see once a year. When I pick sessions, I research the presenter and go by their work rather than the session title or description. For example, I will always attend a Nancy White regardless of what it was about.

What disappointed you most about the conference?
Other than the Moosecamp track on Friday most sessions were fixed presentations with very little interaction/discussion. If the Conference is going to be bigger we need to increase the number of concurrent sessions. Many of the smaller rooms were horribly oversubscribed. A couple of big theatre sessions (LCS 2/3) are good but there should be enough smaller sessions to break up the attendees into manageable sizes.

Any other comments, suggestions or feedback?
How about a way to email or blog my conference evalutation when I hit the submit button on this form.


So Science is still Cool

So I ran my iPhone through the wash yesterday night. Not intentionally you understand, but as a consequence of just being a little stupid. But it is still running this morning, slightly worse for wear thanks to a sandwich bag and a couple of scoops of rice – and a little science geekery.

I heard with a weird clunk, a noise as my washer finished up late last night. Then it hit me, the thunk was likely my iPhone left in the cargo pocket of my walking shorts. Oh no. A rumble through the laundry confirms the evil truth.

So my science teacher brain goes to what my options might be. Normally that moisture sucking gel that they pack with electronics would be the best choice, but not being an electronics supply store – that really wasn’t an option. The alternatives run through my mind and I settle on dry rice and a Ziplock bag. (Apparently this choice wasn’t unique) I pack the iPhone in and hope for the best. It recovered slightly in about an hour but I left it over night. The LCD is still a little rough, either from the water or the thumping in the washer. However it is working and functional enough that a replacement isn’t immediately required.

Science to the rescue – and it made me miss being a science teacher.

It wasn’t the only time in the last couple days that I wanted to jump back into a classroom. I attended Northern Voice this weekend as well. That will be the topic of a number of posts here – it is a blogging conference after all. On friday, David Ng’s session on science education which included the Phylomon Project. It is amazing that kids can keep track of thousands of animated characters, know the rules to complicated games – online and otherwise, and have the manual dexterity to run through the toughest first person shooters. Compared to most Flash-based maze games, the periodic table is a walk in the park. It all comes down to context.

School Science still hasn’t found a context that is compelling to kids on a regular basis. We still teach science as history in many cases rather than the practical reality of the world around us. Dave had a great quote that “Science is the closest approximation we have of the truth”. If that isn’t compelling I don’t know what is. Not to mention it helps you fix your wet iPhone.

Thanks David, you make me want to teach Science again:

David Ng is a geneticist, science educator, wannabe writer, and faculty based at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia. You can find out more about his academic dabblings at http://bioteach.ubc.ca You can follow his twitter @dnghub

UPDATE: read David’s Comments on Northern Voice – Here (05/11)

Working is Learning, Learning is Working.

Harold Jarche nailed a great point in his article on Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Learning is no longer what you do before you go to work, never having to learn anything else in order to do your job. In the 21st century networked economy, learning and working are becoming one.

via Harold Jarche » LMS is no longer the centre of the universe.

If I’m going to build my experience and skills, why would I want to tie that up in someone else’s system. I spent some time last night archiving old content on my Drobo. I have all these snippets of content that I’ve created over the years that I need to sort and maybe even save. [Note: the addition of Hazel has really helped this – more on that later]

I recently dropped some social networks and I’m on the verge of dropping Facebook. I don’t like the idea of pouring inside someone else’s bucket. I think the real line is desire to be considered a professional. Being a professional means owning your knowledge and the tools that go with it. Whether it is a work or education system, I can’t see leaving my career and personal goals to other people or their software.

Life Lessons From Albert Einstein

Given my background in Physics, its safe to say I have fascination with Albert Einstein. Frankly I feel he was more a comtributor to scientific thought than he was to Physics in particular. In reading his work, the science is compelling to be sure, but you get this sense of insight that is awe-inspring.

I’ve had this post in my ‘to read’ file for a while. I’ve gone back to it several times to re-read it. Again the 10 points he makes there is very powerful. These are the onesthat speak the most to me.

  • Follow Your Curiosity
  • Perseverance is Priceless
  • The Imagination is Powerful
  • Make Mistakes

via 10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn From Albert Einstein – by Dumb Little Man.

Spent a lot of time recently considering my professional development, including career changes and skill improvements. What keeps coming back to me is the inability to extend my knowledge on a daily basis. Don’t want to go back to Grad School for some deep thinking, but need to find those mental streches.


Sometimes I wish more things operated on a Life and Death basis

… at least you’d know if you are doing it right.

It is somewhat dark humour to refer to ‘life and death’ as a preferred mode of operation but it does provide a useful view of how you are doing your own business.

A podcast got me thinking about this again. AVWeb’s podcast covers a lot lot flying related material but there are always things that apply beyond the pilots seat.

NASA on the Science of Pilot Error: “AVweb caught up with Dr. Key Dismukes, chief scientist for human factors at the human systems integration division at NASA Ames Research Center.”

I’ve moved between the world of technology, education and flying. I must admit I wish the first two worked more like the last one. It is just too easy to hobble along doing important work mediocrely and missing the less important stuff all together. When the results can be catastrophic you don’t accept the ‘whatever’ standard.

Memory is Good – Paper is better
While knowing your craft and having good skills and habits are the traits of a professional (pilot or other wise), you still don’t leave things to chance. The classic example is the use of the Checklist. Pilots drill on emergency procedures and learn to react to even the most bizarre situations. But, unless their is the most dire situation, you still go to the checklist. Its not that you don’t know what the list is, you don’t rely on memory if you don’t have to.
An example is when I used to do test prep skills with my students. I would tell them if there was specific facts you knew you needed somewhere in a test look at them before you went in the room and before you even started the test – turn the paper over, and right them down. They were shocked that this sounded like ‘cheating’ – the rule it you have to carry the info into the test in your head, no law about how long they had to stay there. Any reasonable person, would not rely on holding critical bit of information and expect to be able to recall them at a critical and stressful moment.

Avoiding Trouble is always preferable

A great Transport Canada safety poster proclaimed

A Superior Pilot is one who uses superior knowledge to avoid situations that require use of Superior Skill

I always loved this line. Too often we let problems degrade to the point that massive skill and effort is required to avoid disaster. Then we pat ourselves on the back for how we pulled it out in the end. This is viewed as a trait of a successful organization and it makes me want to weep. In IT circles the concept of Hero worship or the God complex drives many things that we do. I work with highly complex network systems and the assumption is that it is a big black box that no-one, save the chosen few can understand. Ultimately that is a disservice to ourselves and those our efforts are supposed to serve.
Saving a bad situation is a rush – don’t get me wrong. Whether it is the adrenaline or the glee of wrestling the near impossible to the ground it does drive our ego. Flying had this problem in the 50s and 60s. The post war ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ view carried into civil aviation. It wasn’t stupidity, it was people engulfed in a particular culture. Later analysis would show we probably killed a lot of people as a result. Hell I work in IT, and the culture is apparent every time I need to go into privileged mode on my servers – as in SUDO (for Superuser Do) -not that this should go to your head or anything…

Communicate, communicate, communicate
In the late 70s and early 80s there was a concerted effort to improve the way commercial airplanes were operated. The military hierarchy that prevailed post war flying was a problem. The view that the Captain could fly the airplane into the ground and everybody else would standby for instructions was not acceptable. Flight crews were made up of a group of people and there was a need to start operating as a team! This started with training in Cockpit Resource management (CRM). Prospective airline pilots were graded on their ability to communicate their actions and what need to be done. They was also a need to break up complex tasks and utilize the people around you affectively. Most importantly, there was an expectation that duties would be shared based on the situation not some perceived pecking order.
In teaching the hierarchy was wrapped up in the ‘Sage on the Stage’ model of teaching where all the information flowed from the brain of the teacher out. Whether it was in my flying or in my teaching, I hated that model. Information can come from many sources whether it is the kid in the third row or the flight attendant in mid-cabin. There is value in drawing information from any source and integrating it whether you are handling a classroom or an airplane.

Apathy Stinks

The wakeup calls happen just when you start getting too comfortable. There have been recent examples in flying of pilots getting to complacent and bad things happening. The NWA flight to Minneapolis is probably the widest known but the Colgan 3407 crash in Buffalo is the deadliest with 49 fatalities.

In the FAA report, of the four contributing factors to the accident here are the middle two:

(2) the flight crew’s failure to adhere to sterile cockpit procedures, (3) the captain’s failure to effectively manage the flight,

It’s not exactly the same as using you Blackberry while driving but ….


Technology in Education – its the culture, stupid.

A friend asked about my Master’s Thesis the other day. I was hunting through old computer files (c.1990) and found quotes that still seem to have a ring of reality.

My paper in 1990 barely considered networked computing, internet or anything like that. In fact it was sparked by a Presidential Commission on Instructional Technology that goes back 20 years before that (1970). In reviewing all the 1950s and 1960s era ‘technology’ that was applied to education.

In part it found:

1. Indifference or Antipathy toward Using Technology in Education
2. Poor Programs
3. Inadequate Equipment
4. Inaccessibility
5. Teachers Not Trained in Instructional Technology
6. Media Specialists Excluded from Central Planning
(Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970, 78-81)

“Today technology touches only a small fraction of instruction. Colleges, universities, and schools have been using television, films, computers, or programmed texts in instruction, but to a limited extent. The results are mixed, with some institutions making a creative and sustained use of the new media while others, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, quickly losing interest.” (Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970, p8)

As is was summarized in a presenation I heard in the late 1980s, “any technology will fail if it doesn’t tak into account the culture of the classroom”.

In the world of ‘social networking’ the message of understanding culture is more important than ever.

NCCE ‘99 Notes Northwest Council for Computer Education, March 17-20,1999

Preceedings availible at http://www.ncce.org/99/proceedings/index.htm

  • Ian Jukes

    Handout at http://www.tcpd.org/tcpd/handouts.html

    • In planning for technology we filtering ideas through
      personal mind set. Expodential growth of technology a problem
      but not the Issue. Headgear lags behind hardware. Technology
      forces change in the way we do things.
    • eg: Moores Law Power 2x and price-30% in 18 mo.
    • In the first 10,000 years almost no change, in the last 50
      years explosive change and it’s not over yet. We can not
      be using old mind sets on new technology. Or view new
      technology as an extension of old technology.
    • What does the future hold.

      -Growth will continue by 2010- a PC will have 1TB HD 8 GHz
      processor 32GB RAM and cost $14

    • Web trends
      • In 1993 no WWW
      • Now 100 million Users
      • By 2000 400million
      • Internet is doubling every 120 days
    • Time to 50 milion Users;
      • telephone.. ~ 41 yrs,
      • Tv 38 yrs,
      • Internet email 3yrs
  • Jennifer James Notes at:

    http://www.drjjames.com/

    • Excellent Keynote similar to the one she gave at NECC in
      Seattle in ‘97.
  • WWW Servers for transfering Student data.

    Jill Hanson Sierra Systems

    • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system for K-12 Piloted
      in washington state (among others).
    • Intelligent Server that could take specific record file and
      Convert it standard form for dilivery to other school.
    • Washington state EDI Pilot “Charlotte” servers. Exchanges
      between all school systems (macschool, sasi, etc) and Colleges
      (Peoplesoft Student info system).
    • This uses a international standard ANSI x.12 EDI standard.
      The final result will also support XML.
    • Servers use Netscape EC expert.
  • Creating a District Internet Proxy Cache and Filtering system
    – Dave Scott

    Handout at http://www.upsd.wednet.edu/upsd/dist/programs/TechSupport/TechFAQ.html

    • Two proxies Safe Proxy for K-7 that only allows access to a
      specific list of sites. No password or logon required.
    • Filtering Proxy for 8-12 and staff using a filter list
      .
    • The users can surf the intranet without using proxy. Once
      they hit the internet they are requried to athenticate.
    • LDAP server Provides link between IP address and user name.
      Log recorded by user name.
    • Surfwatch of allowable sites for k-7.
    • 8-12 Netscape proxy + Cyber patrol.
    • LDAP Server reacts with Proxy for Name to Slte log.
    • Future plans for proxy and DNS. A local level would be
      better than current district DNS.
    • Local proxies would also improve performance.
  • Learning Space

    www.learningspace. org

    • This is a consortium effort in Washington State to share
      information on planning, instruction, and support of
      technology.
  • Tom Snyder
    • Intro: Educaitonal Theory Vigotski-“all learning in
      social”. Storytelling is a fundemental social interaction.
    • Schools could be the last vestiage of Coming Together.
    • What if one of the unitended consequences of technology is
      to reduce conversation?
    • To avoid the shock of rapid change to educaiton we need to
      know “How to do it Gently?”
    • Computer Literacy Is not literacy. The word ‘literacy’
      implies a fundemental urgency that is not necessarily
      true.
    • The word ‘interactivity’ is only function of education. It
      doesn’t get used in other places. Interaction = ” l don’t want
      a relationship with my WP.”
    • Interaction is intended to let students learn rather than
      having them taught. By letting students Choose their own path
      They might just end up running amuck. Interaction seems to
      involve clicking as fast as possible through a set of links
      with little or no commitment to the information that is being
      presented.
    • The best Interactive software is about 1/100 as good as the
      worst relationship you can have with a cat!
    • Reference to the “The great geography Scare” – every 7
      years the Geography curriculum gets redone to solve the problem
      of students not finding their own state on a map.
    • Results: The answer to bad teaching and schools is not
      technology; it is better teachers and better schools.
  • SearchEngine Mini session

    Analisa Massanari

  • Linux Session

    http://www.riverdale.k12.or.us

    • Server Services
      • DCHP,
      • apache (www),
      • CGI PERL,
      • Proxy,Nettalk (appletalk),
      • window Print and File Services (Samba)
    • Deskop
      • Commercial and free solutions availible
      • Wordperfect and Staroffice, Free to individuals, Cost to
        business/schools
    • http://www.cheapbytes.com– Source for cheap CDs of Linux releases
    • List of K12 Linux Resources
      [HERE]

    Back To Pro D Page


Bill Kempthorne <billk@maxwest.net> c1999 maxwest.net Web
Services

Bill’s Notes From NECC ’97

Keynotes

Monday – Bill Gates

Three Microsoft Examples.
  • New York- Mott Hall, Office & Notebook computer available
    100% of the time.
  • Jackson Hole WY Certified Education Program (AATP) for NT and
    95 Program at High school
  • Blacksburg VA “Most connected Community” Linking schools to
    community including Elementary Children to Pensioners

Tuesday – Keynote

Pre keynote announcements: Student Technology Leaders

Info available at
http://www.advanced.org/thinkquest

Plan for Cyberfair 98, Community day In October

Chris Held Bellvue SD

  • Philosophy = Powerful Ideas
  • Epistemology Powerful Learning
  • Pedagogy , Powerful Teaching
  • Technology Powerful Tools

‘All Things are connected”

Integrated Technology Classroom with 4:1, Kids to Computer ratio

Also includes Camcorder ,Lego-Logo, Laptops,

Wednesday – Jennifer James, Cultural Anthropologist

Author “Thinking in the future tense”

Getting computers and technology is not the major problem.

Rich Poor split is not the major problem eventually either the
disparity resolves itself or the poor defect toward anarchy.james

The gap is a behavioral.”The Truth will set you free but first
it will make you miserable” Technology can be a great equalizer
economically. Mass migration can be a destabilizer but technology
allows people to prosper where they are.

Progress is the Concentration of energy

Skills of teachers vs intelligence of teachers

Economics are the efficient Use of energy

Concurrent Sessions