Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Double Vision... Forward Vision... 2020 Vision

2020 Vision: Do we know whatschools and the educational process will look like when we get there? I am currently a mid-career teacher / educator and I plan on still being part of the process in 2020, therefore I need to make sure that I build a skill set that will allow me to be an effective teacher when I near the end of my career. Remember: "There is a big difference between teaching thirty years and teaching one year thirty times."

Karl Fisch on his blog, The Fisch Bowl, has posted a video that he created in the 'EPIC 2014' or 'Googlezon' genre about how the educational process may change over the next 13 years. Most of the preditions he makes are related to Google and their role in education and society. I can personally tell you that 2007 will be the year that Google injects themselves into the educational process. Karl makes the point that next years Kindergarteners will be the class of 2020 and the link to the idea of a 'clarity of vision.' I watched the video one time and immediately had to post a comment on Karl's blog, but I also posted a link to the video on the Google Teacher's Group page and sent a link to all of the teachers at our school. I actually walked in on my principal watching the video in his office.

I thought that some of the items that Karl discussed were out there a little, but that is what you do when you make a video like this, you create a little controversy to spur on the discussion. I think that it helps the process move forward.

2007: Arapahoe Public Schools start the BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) program for students. I know this would make most Technology Directors call out the National Guard and sound every alarm from here to Bangalore, but I think it is important and much easier to implement and secure than most would imagine. Not to 'overgeek' anyone, but it is a fairly easy task to segment the school network in such a way that traffic on student laptops would not use the same data pathway that critical school services would travel on.

2008: Arapahoe Public Schools negotiate a contract for wired and wireless network services with Comcast. The network uses the new WiMax technology, which allows Internet access to be virtually 'ubuquitous' within the surrounding area. Approximately 600 students take advantage of the BYOL program. Amazon purchases e-Bay and renames the company 'A-bay,' the price for all items is now negotiable.

2009: 10 Arapahoe teachers begin podcasting all of their classes. 1,100 students are participating in the BYOL program.
- Google buys Associated Press and Disney/ABC - Also buys the rights to lectures at Stanford, MIT and Harvard.
- Yahoo buys Reuters, NBC and Universal - Also buys the rights to lectures at Princeton, Michigan and CalTech.

2010: Google introduces the GCam and the GCast service to allow teachers to broadcast all of their lectures to the Internet. All of the lectures are archived and available via podcast to students 24/7/365. The lectures were also integrated into a Course Management System, like Moodle. Arapahoe installed 10 GCams to start the school year, the units were such a success they installed units in the rest of the classrooms during the winter break.

2011: Warrior Portal launched. Allowed teachers and students to access all of their information from one place. The school district announced that starting in 2013, they would do away with letter grades in favor of a portfolio based authentic assessment system. Arapahoe schools had 10 sister school relationships with schools from around the world.
- Microsoft buys Yahoo and Dell
- Google buys five small companies dealing with quantum computing, solar energy and battery technologies.

2012: The Arapahoe Public Schools merge with the community college system to create a consolidated educational entity. Students can enter anytime between the seventh and tenth grades and upon graduation would have two years of college credit transferrable to any Colorado State College or University. The program was initially stopped by the Colorado State Department of Education, but was reinstated after a group of parents successfully sued the state in the State Supreme Court.

2013: Google buys controlling interests in Ford, Apple and AMD. Google stock prices drop 25% when the Google Board will not reveal future plans. There is a movement to recall the Google Board, but they retain their seats by a slight majority.

2014: On December 1, based on the time table set forth by the stock holders a year earlier, Google announces several new products.
- Google Panels: Solar panels that quadrupled the output of current panels at 1/3rd the cost. All Google data centers would be powered by Google Panels. Would create 20 Billion in revenue in three years. Creating the Google Grid and providing power to underdeveloped countries.
- GCars: Electric car that is a joint venture between Google and Ford, using a battery technology that extends the distance between charges to 1,2oo miles. Consumers with Google Panels on their homes create enough energy to power their homes and cars. The cars were also equipped with wireless capability, which created a wireless mesh network in almost every metropolitan area.
- Google creates a new quantum computing chip that runs at the speed of chips produced 2 years previously at 5% of the power cost. Laptops built using the chips could be completely powered by solar panels installed on the backs of the units.

2015: Apple and Google annouce the 'iMAGINE' computer, using the new quantum computing chips. The operating system and applications were all 'open source' and the only cost for the computer was $20 to cover shipping and handling and a $40 annual subscription to 'Google Premium.' Content from all of the major universities and early-bird access to 'A-baY' merchandise.

2016: Microsoft, after seeing the explosion in content in Google Premium, approaches Google to form a partnership. Google agrees to the Microsoft partnership. Intel sues Google for unfair business practices, the case is fast-tracked to the US Supreme Court, which rules infavor of Google.

2017: Google U: Offering content between 9th grade and Master’s Degree. There would be no tuition because ad revenue would cover those costs. Google accepted applications from schools and universities to become Google U. partners, participating schools would receive a cut of Google ad revenue from the site.

2018: President Obama announced that the US was no longer importing any foreign oil and had a 500 Billion dollar surplus. This is the first year where carbon emmissions were lower than the previous year.

2019: Google and Apple announce the 'eyeMAGINE,' a computer that uses a display that projects the image onto the users retina. This eliminated the need for an external monitor, The unit was the size of a 'deck of cards' and connected wirelessly to the Internet. The unit can be controlled by voice by the ‘iThumb,’ a device that was the size of cellphones of the mid-2000’s.

A Global Learning Network was created and eliminated the need for a physical school, but students did come together for social, intellectual and athletic endeavors.

2020: The Global Learning Community is established and despite the claims of many that the use of technology in school would isolate people, it has actually brought people closer than ever before.

I would invite you to take a look at the entire video, which is now posted on Google Video here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Google Student Desktop

In the past few weeks since the Google Teacher's Academy, I have been playing around with many of the Google tools and looking for ways to integrate them into the day to day life of teachers and students. The applications they showed us during the day we spent at Google: SketchUp, Blogger, Picasa, Calendar, Docs and Spreadsheets, Groups, Reader and Earth, are all very cool and have many uses in education, but there was something missing. The part that was missing for me was the way to have all of these tools available at my or my students fingertips at the same time. Google Personalized Home, has the ability to be an 'Internet portal' for teachers and students.

If you have a Gmail account, you can create your own personalized home page. You can then add widgets, some created by Google and some by third parties, to your home page. Some of the third party 'widgets' are: bookmarksThis allows you to create a 'dashboard' of services that you use on a daily basis and best of all, these services are available to you anyplace you can get to a computer with an Internet connection. Imagine you and your students having access to a wealth of tools at any computer, anyplace in the world.

When you start, you are given a page that has the Google search bar on the top third of the page and the bottom two-thirds of the page is divided into three columns, where your widgets can be loaded into and saved. If you have more widgets than your main page can hold, you can create additional pages and you can navigate between your pages using tabs across the top of the three columns.

(Screen shot of the tabs on my personalized home page)

(The screen shot below is of the three columns on my home page.)

(This is the screen shot of my 'Google Apps' page on my personalized home page. I have a widget for all of the pages I have bookmarked.)

Currently, there are certain Google tools that do not have 'widgets' to be included in the Personal Home page, but I would suspect that these items would be included soon. The two that would be the most useful to me would be Blogger and Docs and Spreadsheets. (As of 11/23 - The Docs and Spreadsheets widget was added after I took the screenshot above.)

Give it a try... I think you'll be impressed.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Monterey Tech 06 - David Warlick Keynote

We just finished listening to David Warlick's keynote at the Monterey CLMS / CUE Conference. The one word I can use to describe what David said was, "Validating." Many of the issues David brought up during his talk were issues we (Myself, Dominic and Geoff) spoke about in our session here yesterday. We put up a page of links we discussed on the Global Communications Wiki.

The picture here is from the "Google Teacher Academy" day where David was part of our conversation about the "New Literacy" via tele-conference.

David discussed the issues we face today in teaching the students we have in our classes and how the structure of the classroom we teach in is better suited for the industrial society of the past instead of the connected, ubiquitous, always ready to go students we have today. The one analogy that was particularly useful to me was the idea of students having 'tentacles.' Students have tentacles that connect them to the world around them. Myspace, cell phones, multi-player online gaming allow students to connect to their world, not just the world they can touch, but the world they can't touch miles or contentents away. In our classrooms, we cut our students tentatcles! We take the tools they are using away from them. In our presentation yesterday, we discussed the 'disconnect' between a student's personal use of technology and their academic use of technology. When I went to promote the "Global Communicatons" program to 8th graders at our middle school, I asked them how many of them had a "Web Presence?" None of the students raised their hands. When I asked them, how many of them either had or knew of someone that has a "Myspace" account. Every hand went in the air. Now, you might be saying that I did this in a room of thirty 8th Graders. No, there were over 300 students in the room.

Another topic that I focused in on was the integration of the idea of the 'flat classroom.' I have written responses to David on his blog about this in the past, but today, I felt that using the idea that classrooms are made up of energy. And in the past, the energy in a classroom was created by 'gravity' created by the teacher being 'superior' to the students, not just in knowledge, but in stature in the fact that the teacher's desk was larger than the student desk and in many times on a podium. In a scientific sense, gravity creates friction and therfore creates energy in that way. In the 'flat classroom' there is not a source of friction, since the teacher and students are at the same level. So, how do we create energy in a 'flat classroom?' My feeling is that the energy in a flat classroom comes from a 'chemical reaction' of students and teachers collaborating with each other and the energy that is created by the 'conversation' that takes place between students, with themselves, and teacher.

Driving and maintaining audiences: This point also hit home with me, since I am currently reading a book, called 'Convergence Culture' by Henry Jenkins. The idea behind 'Convergence Culture,' is that we are connected to multiple media sources and that there is an interaction between the creators of the media and the consumers. Where the consumer now has an interactive relationship with the media they consume. This manifests itself in items like fan websites created to figure out who will win the next 'Survivor' or the next 'American Idol' competition. Fans making home movies or writing stories using the characters from 'Star Wars' or 'The Matrix.' The idea of interaction between the creators and comsumers of media interacting with each other and the consumer deepening the experience for themselves and others is intriguing and will only get bigger.

The last thing David mentioned was close to the quote I use as the quote on this blog. "There is a big difference between teaching thirty years and teaching one year thirty times."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Day at the 'Googleplex': Google Teacher's Academy

What an awesome day! I was fortunate enough to be one of the fifty teachers selected to take part in the first Google Teacher's Academy on November 7. It was a long day, filled with a lot of learning, sharing and food! One of the first things you notice when you get to the 'Googleplex,' is that there is food everywhere. On our tour in the middle of the day, I believe I heard our guide say that there are 17 restaurants and NO cash registers.

So, the day started with them giving us... Food. We had a continental breakfast in one room, while they showed some of the videos that participants had submitted to become part of the Google Teacher's Academy. Each of our name badges had a color in the upper left hand corner to signify which group we were to be in for the day. We were then taken into the Kiev training room in Building 43. It is a college style lecture hall, with tables and they provided IBM ThinkPads for us to use during the day. For those of you who are a little geeky... Our wired connection on the ThinkPads was 1.0 Gbps. Woo Hoo! I was fortunate enough to be a member of the 'Black Group' which meant that my seat was front and center. We were introduced to the leaders of the day; Cristin Frodella, our 'Google Host,' Chris Walsh from WestEd and Mike Lawrence from CUE. I had met Mike Lawrence previously, but Chris Walsh must have been a little taken aback having a meanacing 6'2" guy with a shaved head in the front row staring at him. Those of you who know me personally, know that I am VERY hard to miss.

After an introduction to the day, we were put into our groups and asked to take part in some team building activities centered around 'innovation.' The next hour was broken up into three segments. The group was divided into thirds and assigned to attend one of three application spotlights: Docs and Spreadsheets, Specialized / Advanced Search and Google Earth with United Streaming. The groups rotated every 20 minutes. I was very impressed with all three of the presentations. I think the new Docs and Spreadsheets is going to be a huge hit in schools for many reasons, but the most important one is that it allows the student to store their documents online and share them with others. This makes student collaborative work and teacher comments on digital documents quick and easy. The Advanced Search was a good segment, but for me it was full of all of the things we are already teaching in our Global Communications course. I really like Google Earth and I finally saw some educational uses that are doable in a classroom. We did a short de-brief back in the Kiev training room and then a quick tour of the main 'Google Quad.'

Next was lunch. Yeah! They fed us again. The restuarant had 10 different food choices and you could mix and match everything. I ended up having lunch with a few people I hadn't met previously, Mark Wagner and Ben Chun. Mark, Ben and myself had a great conversation about blogging and how it could assist in changing the educational process. After lunch, we did a panel discussion about information literacy and whether the 'Big 6' information strategies were still valid for today's students. We were also fortunate to have David Warlick involved via teleconference.

The next group to work with us was a group of Google engineers working on improving 'search functions.' I was really amazed by the fact that they were all young women of color, definitely breaking the stereotype of the 'coding geek.' The group seemed very receptive to the suggestions that the teachers had regarding search.

The afternoon three application rotation was next with Sketch Up, Picasa / iPhoto and Blogger. All three applications have some great educational uses and are all free, as was everything else we saw with the exception of the United Streaming material in the morning session. Mark Wagner, whom I had lunch with was the Blogger presenter and Mike Lawrence of CUE was the Picasa/iPhoto presenter.

Are you tired, yet? A lot of us were! We then had two additional sessions back in the Kiev training room dealing with instructional design and using technology to support diverse learners. Both sessions were good, but I wished they were more interactive with the group. I felt like there was a lot of talented teachers in the room and the dialogue could have strengthened the presentations. At this point, its about 5:00 PM, the leaders want us to start working on our post academy goals. As part of the process, each teacher is expected to give back to the edtech community in three ways. There were many different options given to us, including: blogging, conference presentations, professional development activities, one on one coaching with teachers, weekly podcasts, etc. So, one of my activities will be posting on this blog at least weekly. I will also be working with teachers in the SMUHSD and elsewhere and I will be doing some large group presentations, like I will be doing this coming week in Monterey, CA at the CLHS Technology Conference.

As we were working on our plans for the rest of the year, Chris Walsh entered the room and asked for our attention. Earlier in the day, when Chris introduced the Infinite Thinking Machine (Google Education Blog), he showed us video posted on the site with Vint Cerf. Vint has been one of the early Internet pioneers and is currently working for Google. Vint spent about 30 minutes with us discussing the Internet and how education will change because of it. It was a fascinating 30 minutes and I think it was one of the best parts of the day.

After our time with Vint Cerf, members of the group were able to share some of the things they are doing at their own sites in relation to educational technology and classroom implementation. It was nice to see some of the things people are working on and how the implementation process works differently in different schools and districts.

And, at the end of our day... They fed us ... again! The leaders of the group walked us to another, nicer restaurant on the other side of the Google campus where we were treated to a fantastic dinner (which I had to leave for... teaching my night class called!) and a short talk by Udi Manber, Google's Vice President for Engineering.

Now, for more good stuff.... Google Swag! We all received Google Backpacks, that are pretty cool. Inside the backpacks, we received a David Warlick book, a Google light-up pen, a Google Flash Drive, A Google Notebook and a Google Baseball Cap.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Guerrilla Education: A Way to Move Forward

Over the past few days I have been reading the blog posts from many of the educational bloggers (Will Richardson, David Warlick and Miguel Guhlin) and finding most are concerned that the opportunity for meaningful change in the educational process is getting bogged down by an educational bureaucracy that has Educational Technology Directors and Administrators creating road blocks for meaningful change. Most teachers say they want to use wikis, blogs and other collaborative tools in their classrooms, yet most will use these tools as a way to do the same assignment using a different medium. Shovelware is a term that is used to describe this process of using a new technology in the same way an older technology had been used.

So, what's a different approach to take in this process? The evangelist label has been used many different ways in reference to technology and tech integration. You can go back to the beginnings at Apple Computer, where the employees were referred to as Evangelists. Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist and former Apple Computer Evangelist, has written extensively on the subject in his books and on his blog, "How to Change the World. Will Richardson, currently on the cover of 'Teacher' magazine, with the headline, "The Blogvangelist", has also embraced this persona in his work with teachers around the country. “The new Internet isn’t about technology anymore” says, Richardson. “Instead, it’s about your imagination, about thinking, quite literally, ‘out of the box’ of the traditional classroom.”

What we are really talking about is changing the roles in the traditional classroom. The classrooms of today are still based on the industrial / assembly line model where the teacher is in possession of the knowledge that is used in the class and the students are expected to be willing receipients of the teacher's knowledge. Will Richardson, in his evangelism, is working to convert the teachers toward the 'new literacy skills' using blogs, wikis, RSS, etc. He has been successful with many teachers, and these are teachers willing to implement these tools into their classes, yet there are still significant road blocks in the way. Some of the road blocks are real and others are imagined, yet they get the same result. Teachers are not able to implement these tools and skills into their teaching repertoire.

I want to change this slightly, evangelism is described as 'converting' others who will in turn go out and spread the tools they have learned. I would like to change the practice over to being a guerrilla. Now, I understand that there may be a negative connotation towards the term 'guerrilla,' but that is also part of the attraction to using that term. It definitely catches your eye and draws your attention to it. So, what meanings am I trying to express by using the term 'guerrilla' to describe the implementation of EdTech skills? First, I want to emphasize the idea that there is a small group of committed individuals working collaboratively to liberate others from a larger governmental group. (read: school bureaucracy) Secondly, I want to emphasize the idea that guerrillas use speed, mobility and tactics that draw their opposition out into 'terrain' that is more advantageous to their skills.

How would we implement such tactics within an educational setting?

1) Assess your current resources.
- What do you have access to that you can use with students to acquire the Information Literacy skills they need?
* Can your students access blogs on campus? Are there certain blogs that are blocked and others that are allowed through your district filters? Have you checked which sites are really blocked or are you going by the word of mouth of another teacher?
* Miguel Guhlin's Walled Garden of Web 2.0 tools
* Blog post from Great Britain dealing with the same issue
- What resources do you wish you had access to, but don't because of some roadblock (real or imagined) that are in your way?
* Search for open source and web based alternatives and make a list. Using open source or web alternatives diffuse the 'cost' issue that so frequently are thrown in the face of educators that are trying to educate and innovate.

2) Assess your Administration:
- What are their objections? Can you build alliances with the site administrators to allow question the district level 'gatekeepers' directly or with their help?
* Sit down with your site level administrators and find their mental roadblocks and remove them quickly and easily. You aren't going to be exiled to Siberia, and your administrators will welcome your leadership and problem solving.
* Show your site level administrators the benefits of using these skills. E-mail them your blog posts (if you have a blog) and articles from the Internet that support the use of these skills.
* Do some 'reconnaissance' on district level administrators. Talk with people around your district to find out what their objections are and why are some sites blocked. Have answers/solutions to those objections ready to go.

3) Know the rules and find ways around them
- What does the district have students and teachers sign when they agree to using technology on campus? What does the Acceptable Use Policy of the district say? Are there other district bylaws or administrative regulations that are in force regarding the use of technology?
* Act like a 'loose constructionist.' I am not asking you to violate the rules and regulations of your district, but if there isn't something specific forbidding you from doing something that is safe and educationally sound. I would start working on it and developing lessons for the classroom and showing the benefit to students.
* NOTE: I am not encouraging you to publically oppose your administration, but I am bringing the focus back to where it should be. On the students.

These tactics may not solve the issues that are in place in your district, but they will give you good working knowledge of what the issues are and how you might start to find ways to change them to help your students.