Saturday, June 28, 2008

How Long is Your Lever?

I just stumbled across Vicki Davis' UStream this morning from Edubloggercon, which I was extremely jealous that I couldn't attend, at NECC. The presenter was Kevin Jarrett, a Cyber-colleague from the Google Certified Teacher's group. Kevin was presenting on Google tools and it was neat that I was then able to share the two sets of slides (Google Apps - Education Edition and Google Sites) I used during my presentation at the most recent Google Teachers Academy (GTA) this past Wednesday (June 25).

"Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world."
- Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody p. 6

How much leverage did this interaction have? Think about it... I was in Fremont, CA in my kitchen, Vicki and Kevin were in San Antonio, TX and they were broadcasting to the world and there were at least 30 people in the back channel. I had heard reports from some of the people at GTA that there were going to be upwards of 500 people involved at Edubloggercon.

The leverage that teachers now have to share best practices, learn from each other, and connect and collaborate is truly amazing. Getting these tools into the hands of more students and teachers and getting them to engage in this new and rapidly growing space is one of my goals as a professional educator. When I arrived at GTA on Wednesday, my name tag had under the role section, "CUE Lead Learner." I took a great deal of pride in this title, since I still see myself as a learner and fully expected to learn from the participants at GTA, which I did. (Pulling the locations of participants from a spreadsheet and then plotting them on a Google Map is VERY COOL!)

So, the question is.... where are you going to stand? Because the tools available to you today definitely give you a long enough lever to move the world!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Google Teacher's Academy - The Fourth Generation

I have been very fortunate in the fact that I have been able to work with some truly wonderful people in the area of Educational Technology. In November 2006, I was one of the first 50 Google Certified Teachers, and it has opened several doors to me over the past 20 months. First of all, I have had the opportunity to work with a great group of people in the area of Educational Technology. The ability to collaborate with many experts in the EdTech field has allowed me to grow and take new chances. Kathleen Ferenz, Cheryl Davis and Jerome Burg (The EdTech Rockstars!) have allowed me to hang around and present in many different venues with them. This has given me the opportunity to meet many new people and get feedback from the writing I have done on this blog from people who have attended presentations I have given.

In the past two days, I have had another one of those experiences that come once in a very long time! On Wednesday, June 25, I had the opportunity to be one of the presenters at the newest Google Teacher's Academy. I had the opportunity to meet another 50 truly gifted people and watch them go through the same experience that changed my life almost two years ago. When I was giving my presentations, the questions and the amount that the participants already knew about the products was very impressive. There were times I felt more like a cheerleader than a presenter. I have to admit, I got a little star struck when Vicki Davis was in my presentation on Google Apps - Education Edition and Google Sites after I had gushed all over her in the line waiting for and on the bus over to the main campus for lunch. Vicki had a great Keynote to start the afternoon session. One of the anaolgies she made about the British Fleet and the Spanish Armada in 1588 and schools today was spot on! Chris Walsh and Esther Wojcicki were as wonderful as they were when I went through the academy.

Then... if that weren't enough, I was able to attend the GTA - Reload for the GCT's in the group I went through the academy with in November 2006. There were about 25 of the original 50 who were able to make it back to the Mountain View campus to reconnect and work with some of the Google engineers on the products. The opportunity to provide feedback to the Google engineers in Google Apps - Education Edition, Google Groups, Google Apps, Google Book Search, Google Sites and Google Earth / Sky was very cool. It really made me feel like I was in on the ground floor on some of the Google development.

The connections I have made over the past 20 months within my Google Certified Teacher's group and the online connections I have made with the Santa Monica and New York City cohorts have made me step it up a few notches in my own professional development. I can only imagine how much more the bar is going to be raised with the newest Mountain View cohort! I guess I better get my high jumping shoes on!

A big thank you to everyone who I have had the opportunity to connect with over the past 20 months and to all of those newly minted GCT's who were so kind to me during my presentations on Wednesday!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Congrats Esther!

Congratulations to Esther Wojcicki, a phenominal English and Journalism teacher from Palo Alto High School to being named to the Creative Commons Board. Esther's work with students at Palo Alto and the work the students have done in their online Journalism program is a model that I think will soon be replicated by schools all over the country. I know Capuchino High School is moving this way as I write! (One of my last acts as I moved to Woodside High School, was to get an online journalism class piloted.)

I first met Esther when I attended the Google Teacher's Academy in November 2006, when she presented Google Docs to our group, before it was really out to the public.

I am personally looking forward to Esther's contributions to the Creative Commons board and the direction I see coming in relation to Copyright, Share-Alike and other types of creative licensing of original works and the role they play in the educational process.

Again, congratulations to Esther! We are all looking forward to great things!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Guerrillas vs. Evangelists

I have been away from this spot for way too long. With the end of the school year and a myriad of other duties, I have been unable to get back here to get this out. I actually started this post several times and then hit 'delete' thinking that it was a little 'out there.' But as I kept thinking about it, it made more and more sense. So, what is it?

Over the past three years, when my EdTech epiphany occurred, I have gone back and forth looking for the right paradigm to explain my vigilance in the EdTech arena. I started with evangelism, thinking that I needed to convert the masses and bring Educational Technology to them and convert others. Did I need a list of theses, like Martin Luther had in 1515 in Wittenberg? I know that Wesley Fryer contemplated his own list of theses in one of his blog posts. I saw the need to bring the information and the skills to the teachers I worked with on a daily basis, but if I went over board I would run the risk of alienating some and end up with the opposite effect. I also looked into some of the strategies of Guy Kawasaki, one of the original 'Apple Evangelists' to gain some insight into non-religious evangelism. What it really came down to was the dedication to an ideal or set of ideas that any individual wanted to garner more attention for. I was much more comfortable with that definition in theory and practice.

I have also used the idea of being an EdTech Guerrilla. I even have registered the domain, Guerrilla Learning, which sits fallow right now and my current professional development wiki is titled, "Guerrilla Learning." I took the wikipedia definition of Guerrilla Warfare and broke it down to illustrate how students (the guerrillas) and the teachers (the established government) interact with educational technology. The students, being more willing to take chances with the technology and media they had access to would begin to create rich content and use it to demonstrate their mastery of educational objectives, whereas the school, not being able to control the information and media would attempt to lock it out. I have rattled around the ideas of guerrillas, but the ideals of Che Guevara didn't exactly get me where I wanted to be. When I first thought of Guerrilla Warfare, I had images of the Movie, "Red Dawn" from the mid 80's with Patrick Swayze and teenagers from Colorado taking on the Soviet backed, Cuban paratroopers. Although, I dislike the overtly military references, I did tend to identify with the definition on many different levels. First, those taking part did so of their own choice. Secondly, they used what every was available to them to advance their cause or ideals. Third, there was an emphasis on being mobile, and attacking from ambush or other advantageous positions, which is a definite trend in EdTech. (mobility and quickness)

So, what is my goal? My goal is to equip teachers and students with the tools necessary to create rich media and use it to demonstrate their mastery of educational objectives. To teach teachers and students that they are the masters of their own knowledge and they do not need to rely on someone lecturing on it to obtain it, it is available on any Internet accessible computer. But to truly make teachers and students accountable for their own learning, we must teach them the skills to evaluate and make informed decisions about the content they are consuming.

The paradigm is important in the sense that it gives someone a point of reference or a way to scaffold the skills and information to make meaning of it for the teachers and students. What paradigms do you you use? How do you use paradigms personally? How do you teach students to use paradigms to take control of their own learning? Regardless of the specific paradigm that you or your students use, having a well thought out systematic process to teach one's self is well worth it and it is something that brings focus to the teaching and learning process.