Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ninging @ NECC

This year will mark my first time presenting a NECC, and I couldn't be more excited or more nervous. I decided to present on what we were doing at the College of Education with Ning, but I thought that some of the other "people behind the Ning" would be interested so I put out a call on Twitter. Boy did I get an incredible & wonderful set of responses. I am honored to co-present with the following:

Dean Mantz was Director of Technology for USD 405 in Lyons, Kansas. Dean has recently taken a position with USD 376 in Sterling, KS. He conducts technology integration trainings with teachers from a variety of fields to help create interesting lessons to education-impacting problems. Prior to his current position, he served as the Assistant Director of Technology and was the lead instructor for the Rice County Technology Academy.

Dianne Krause is the Instructional Technology Specialist and Classrooms for the Future Coach at Wissahickon School District in Ambler, PA. She
works with teachers district-wide to best integrate technology into their teaching and to develop 21st century skills in students. Prior to this position, Dianne was a French teacher recognized as a Keystone Technology Integrator for her technology integration into her courses.

Amira Fouad, Program Manager for RezEd.org, the Hub for Learning and Virtual Worlds, a network launched by Global Kids Inc. in March of 2008. Amira worked as a facilitator for the Project Tolerance Fellowship and the National Coalition Building Institute in programs utilizing conflict mitigation and informal education as a vehicle for peace building and community development.

Sheryl Grant is the Director of Social Networking for HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media & Learning. She is a former instructor for UNC-ITS Teaching & Learning, and coordinator for the Community Workshop Series, an award-winning program serving free information literacy workshops to the general public.

We will be discussing the following Nings & how we adminsiter them:

The College of Education at NC State is utilizing Ning to leverage the the popularity of these SNS, such as MySpace and Facebook, in a more professional environment with their pre-service teachers. Their goal is to encourage discourse and sharing both in and out of the classroom. Students are grouped not just by class or course in the Ning network, but by interest and social groups.

The HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media & Learning Winners' Hub uses Ning in order to create a public learning experience. Winners report to the hub as their projects evolve and create a "learning legacy" that serves successive winners and others in the digital media and learning community.

RezEd is a Ning- supported community of practice that brings attention to the myriad ways virtual worlds are being used for learning in various settings. It covers both commercial and educational virtual worlds through news updates; multimedia resources; a podcast series with youth, theorists, world builders, practitioners and experts in the field; a curated best practice report series, various digital media resources, guest-moderated discussions, etc. In addition, knowledge is generated and shared as members contribute photos and videos, facilitate special interest groups, and manage personal blogs.

The Wissahickon School District uses Ning as a professional learning network for faculty and staff of the district. The Ning network is for sharing, collaboration, support and communication district-wide. Groups are created for each grade level, school, department and other special-interest audiences. Resources are shared amongst colleagues in different buildings and grade-levels. Wissahickon is also exploring the use of Nings with students and its implications on pedagogy and learning.

The Future Kansas Teachers Scouting Ning was designed by ESSDACK to allow talented future teachers to be discovered and recruited by great districts.

Join us if you can in the Open Source Lab!

Tuesday, 6/30/2009, 12:30pm–1:30pm WWCC 152 B

When to Skype & when to Elluminate

I run into this problem a good deal in my job. A new tool comes out and everyone wants to use it - whether it is better or not. Now I understand this, I love playing and tinkering with new toys, but when I teach others, I more often go for stability than cool. The Newness of a tool wears off too fast for me. My first question when someone wants to try out a tool is not "Why?", but "What are you trying to use the tool for?" This gets at the heart of what a teacher is trying to accomplish by using a tool, and can allow me as a technology facilitator to help them find the most appropriate fit.

So the question comes across my desk about using Skype or Tokbox instead of Elluminate. We are lucky to have a university wide liscence of Elluminate & I am a big fan of the product. I've taught and been taught via Elluminate for the past couple of years and am familiar with it. Now I've never been very successful with the video on Elluminate and have mostly relied on the audio interaction. The whiteboard tool is excellent (especially when you upload presentations) and the polling feature is essential in a Distance Ed class. Application sharing can be a bit tricky, but an important tool. Overall the group interactions have been quite good.

The request to use Skype came as a suprise to me & I wanted to know more about why the change. And what it came down to was that these teachers missed the face to face and wanted more of that kind of interaction. The school based teams meet together in the computer labs and all get on Elluminate next to each other. Now I think of Elluminate as a great tool, because you can do it from anywhere, home, work, school, or Starbucks and because of the interaction tools for large numbers of people. But this was a different senario.

My typical recommendation would be that Skype is for one to one conversations and that Elluminate is for large group interactions, but now we had a combination of both. So guess what they wanted to do? Now we will be using Elluminate to facilitate the text chat, application sharing, & presentations, but utilize the video & audio frm Skype on the big screen in the 2 schools.

I'm interested to see how this works, becuase sometimes the best tool is a combination of them...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NECC 2009 - DC Here we come!

I am excited that in a few weeks I will be attending my 3rd National Education Computing Conference - NECC - one of the best conferences in and surrounding Education Technology. Beth Still's post about surviving your first NECC has me thinking back on the last two I attended.

The first NECC I attended was in 2006 in San Diego, CA. It was the first National Conference I had ever been too, and I was so excited. My husband, Brent, came with me and we made a mini-vacation out of it. I was shortly joined by Lisa Grable, a long time NECC attendee & the pair of us divided and conquered the sessions. It was nice to have someone to meet up with and discuss the sessions, but the downside is that you don't really socialize too much with others. This was the first conference I saw Wil Richardson speak at, and I was blown away by his message and presentation style. I am still influenced by what he pulled off that day.

There were a small group of us that were bloggers and we met at a Bar/Pub/Brewery to discuss what was going on. Steve Hargadon was passing out "Support Blogging" buttons. I had an idea of whom some of these people were, but I really was just hearing or meeting them for the first time. It was strange to be in a room full of people and know things about them, but they know nothing of you and try & start a conversation, but I held my own & had a good time.

I missed the NECC in 2007 while I was on maternity leave with Evan, but was able to make the trip to San Antonio last year. I knew I would be headed to the conference not knowing anybody and I was really intimidated by that. I really wanted to go to the Edubloggercon on the Saturday before the conference started, but knew that would basically leave me with nothing to do on Sat night & Sunday. It also happened to be a big birthday for my mother (of which I will not reveal her age - sometimes she actually reads my blog :) and I thought it would be perfect to inviter her to spend the weekend with me. This worked out perfect, I was able to experience the best of the conference and enjoy San Diego.

The Edubloggercon really helped me to get to know my fellow attendees, and helped facilitate some great discussions that carried over into the next few days. I found myself hanging out more at the Edublogger Cafe than actually attending sessions. This was also my first "real" introduction to Twitter and how it could be utilized. I found out what sessions were popular or full, made lunch plans with virtual strangers and went out to night clubs. The twitter dinner was a great culmination of all the connections I had started to make and solidified friendships that I have kept up in the past year.

I'm excited to see what this year will bring. I am presenting for the first time, and with a group of people I have never met in person! Luckily, this year it is in DC, so that even though I have no travel budget I can afford to travel on my own and stay with friends. I wonder what this NECC will bring? I hope I will meet some old friends & make some new ones. My PLN has grown so much over the past year - I look forward to meeting everyone in person!

P.S. My blog will probablly be filled with NECC related entries in the next few weeks - as will my Twitter so watch out!