Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm proud of my faculty OR How to start a 1:1 Laptop Project

When I was in college Wake Forest University & UNC required laptops. I had friends that complained about having to turn in their homework "online" in something called "WebCT." AT the time I was so thankful that NC State did not require laptops, why did you need one when we had such great labs? We didn't have wireless, we had 14.4 modems - computers were great, but they weren't exactly portable, nor connected devices. I had better luck lugging around my Zip disk reader and zip disks than a laptops.

But two years ago (and possibly longer) the idea for a real 1:1 ubiquitous computing initiative at our college really started to flourish. I started investigating other Colleges of Ed that were using laptops with their pre-service teachers, as well as our sister institutions in the state. I found little to no implementation plans that went beyond hardware specs and connectivity issues. (The one standout from this is the University of Texas at Austin) The Friday Institute's 1:1 initiative and local middle school going 1:1 truly served as a catalyst to getting this project going. But, what we are hearing from the K-12 initiatives, that is absent in most of the Higher Ed initiatives is the importance of not only technology support, but workshops on how to teach differently with laptops. That is is a pedagogical shift, not just a technological one.

Starting this Fall we will be "strongly encouraging" (more on that wording later) all of our incoming Freshman to have laptops by their Sophmore year (most of our classes don't start until the sophomore year). But what I am the most impressed with are my faculty and administration. This isn't me trying to push something through, this is truly a collaborative effort. So when we have a meeting about what kind of technology workshops to hold to support this initiative I was struck by the outcomes.
  1. My faculty volunteered to teach the majority of the classes.
  2. The focus is on pedagogy, not technology
  3. They respect my ability to teach technological pedagogical strategies, nit just how a program works.
Can I just say how proud I am to be apart of this project. That everything that I fight for in the future of education is embodied in these statements. That we should be changing pedagogy, not just adding on technology in our classes, that it needs to come from the faculty, not just administration, and that yes I may not be a content expert in your field, but I can show you successful technology integration strategies. This is an instructional technologist dream.

So what are these workshops you say? Well the list is:

Wednesday May 12th 9 - 11 1:1 in a New Learning Ecology John Lee
1:1 computing environments are prompting a new learning ecology, which takes shape given four unique conditions. This session will provide a hands-on opportunity to explore these conditions as well as five related strategies for 1:1 teacher professional development.
11-12 Panel of current K-12 Teachers in a 1:1 Environment
Hear from the front line what it is like to teach in a 1:1 environment. How did their teaching change? What do they wish they had been prepared for in university? What should our upcoming graduates know about teaching in a 1:1 environment?
1-3 1:1 Classroom Management Strategies Angela Wiseman & Carol Pope
Classroom management can look drastically different in a 1:1 classroom. How do you structure your class to work effectively in this environment? Angela & Carol will share with you advice based on their experience in transitioning to the 1:1 classroom.
3-4 Capturing and Encouraging In-class Discussion Kevin Oliver
Now that your students have laptops how do you use them to encourage digital discussion in class? What types of tools exist to facilitate in class discussion? In this session we will discuss the basics of setting up and capturing a back channel discussion, as well using various online polling tools.
Thursday May 13th 9-11 Making it Work: Roundtable Discussion on Teaching in 1:1 Eric Wiebe
What does a 1:1 class look like? How can you make it happen inside your existing classes? In this session we will have a more open discussion about what your fellow faculty have done to integrate technology in their classes. Bring your syllabus and start planning for next year.

11-12 New Literacies & Project Based Inquiry for 1:1 Classrooms Hiller Spires
Project-Based Inquiry (PBI) has had a resurgence as an important learning design that can readily incorporate new literacies and media as part of the learning process. Learn how to engage students in PBI in your 1:1 class.
1-3 Collaboration in the 1:1 Classroom Angela Wiseman
How do you encourage collaboration among your students? How does this change in a 1:1 environment? Web 2.0 tools that encourage collaboration such as Google Docs will be discussed.

3-4 Grading Assignments Digitally Bethany Smith
In a paperless environment, how do you provide feedback? Utilizing tools such as comments in Word, Adobe Reader and others we will discuss the best ways to provide feedback to students via Moodle.

Friday May 14th 9-11 Top 5 Uses for Moodle in the 1:1 Classroom Bethany Smith
The best way to start using Moodle is in a 1:1 Classroom! Using your syllabus as a guide you can map out your entire semester of readings assignments and much more online in Moodle.

11-12 Facilitating Discussion in class and Online Carol Pope & Bethany Smith
How do you create an engaging discussion? How do you get your students to actively participate in online discussions? Carol & Bethany will discuss different strategies and technologies to get the most out of your students online participation.

1-3 Gathering Classroom Responses in a 1:1 Environment Heather Davis
How do classroom response systems (i.e. Clickers) work in a 1:1 classroom? Heather will discuss her experience in using Moodle quizzes, Me Too!, Clickers and the Turning Point software as an assessment strategy in her course. 3-4 Communicating with Students using Multimedia Lori Holcomb Sometimes showing students how something works can be more effective then just telling them. Using tools such as Screencasting, Web cam videos or even podcasts can serve as an important communication tool with your students.

3-4 Communicating with Students using Multimedia Lori Holcomb
Sometimes showing students how something works can be more effective then just telling them. Using tools such as Screencasting, Web cam videos or even podcasts can serve as an important communication tool with your students.

We will be Ustreaming and backchannel chatting through the three days of training. We are still building our wikispace at It will be a whirlwind of a few days, but I really feel that we can move our college forward with this project.

danah boyd Q &A - WWW2010/Futureweb

danah boyd's afternoon Q&A brought up some great questions surrounding the ethical use of large data-sets put out by social media companies, and the growing concern over privacy issues. As in her morning keynote, this was an excellent discussion over research methods, and the importance of qualitative date. A few topics from the beginning of the session include:
  • When is big data a reflection on life?
  • Most misuse is unintentional
  • We mean well, but we need to think like a hacker. Think of the unintended possibilities when releasing data
  • How do you allow for context in your data?
  • IRBs are not asking the tough ethical questions (as someone who went through a horrendous IRB process I actually respect it a bit more)
  • We need to be OK with being forthright about what we CAN'T derive from our data
This then transitioned into more information about teenagers and their use of SNS (danah's main research topic currently). I really think that her research would fit so well into our educational/developmental psychology classes. So much of what she talks about, teachers understand the back end reasoning for, it is just now manifesting in different ways because of the Internet. Some of her points are:
  • Teenagers creating themselves into being
  • Come with ideas of social ideals
  • Want to be cool
  • Lamenting that they have no privacy
  • If it's publicly accessible parents feel they have the right to look
  • Adults think about what they have to lose
  • But teenagers think about what they have to gain with sns
This brings up an interesting discussion point of "friending" your parents and what is acceptable usage. danah contends that parents should be giving their teenagers space and not friending them. When I specifically asked her about teachers friending students, I agreed with her stance a bit more. Her recommendation was for teachers to have two facebook accounts. One for students/school usage. She does not recommend that you "friend" any of your students with this page, but leave it publically open and utilize it as a communication channel. An open door policy if you will. Then have a separate FB account for personal use that is completely locked down. I think most teachers have been doing the completely locked down part, but now I realize the importance of having FB as a communication venue. My brother for instance doesn't really check any e-mail - but he checks his FB mail, so I use that to communicate with him. It really just allows for another avenue, especially one that students can use to contact you.

I also thought it was interesting when I talked to her afterwards that she doesn't see Ning as a social network, but as a community network - that they are actually distinct and different entities. I'm going to have to think on that one a bit, and hope it doesn't negate my current research projects :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

danah boyd keynote @ WWW2010/Futureweb

One of the reasons I was interested in attending Futureweb in the first place was because danah boyd (and yes that is in all lowercase like e.e. cummings) would be one of the main speakers. The majority of my thesis was based on her research in social networking systems, her work constitutes one of the seminal works on defining what a SNS is and how it can be researched. Lets just say I'm a fan. Her talk at WWW2010 however, was about Publicity and Privacy in the Context of Big Data

But, what I felt she really talked about was the mixed-methods approach to research. She was trying to convince this very quantitative world that deals with large data sets, that quantifiable data doesn't answer all of our questions, that quant data has issues and is incomplete, and to remember that all data connects to a human being. That data analysis can have an impact on the samples themselves.

Her points on privacy, and the evolution of privacy concerns in the digital age are spot on. "We rely on security through obscurity" and our culture has changed to a "public by default, private through effort." That we have no problem sharing our Personally Identifiable Information (PII) but are incredibly worried about sharing our Personally Embarrassing Information (PEI).

The talk of Facebook at this conference alone has made me want to close my account. I feel like I have a good handle on what information I post and consciously don't post on FB, but the privacy changes and the way the company uses my information, my data, makes me cringe.

Overall, this was one of the better keynotes I have ever seen. Not only is danah boyd an excellent speaker, but her slides were like a Presentation Zen gold mine (and I'd like to note she and I use at least 2 of the same pictures in our presentation repertoire). Futureweb has posted some of the video clips from the talk, and danah herself has posted the entire text.

Can I be like her when I grow up, wait if we're the same age can I still do that?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Futureweb WWW2010 Conference Day 1 - Afternoon Panel

The afternoon panel of WWW2010 was an interview with Sir Tim Burners-Lee (the inventor of WWW) and Danny Weitzner (previously with w3c and now with the Obama Administration) conducted by Lee Rainie (Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project). This session was really about how the web needs to serve humanity properly and what are the ways to accomplish that vision. The discussion mostly revolved around the Net Neutrality debate and how the FCC and government needs to be involved to prevent ISPs from blocking or degrading content. That users should be able to use any ISP they want, any application they want, and access any content they want. The discussion never went into "The Internet is a fundamental basic right," but they were pretty close to getting there. Weitzner (who kept prefacing everything with "I used to work at a non-profit trying to fight the government and now I am the government trying to make the changes I was pushing for - so this is weird") tried to focus on how the government was trying to close the access to internet barrier by funding the "middle bone" connecting the backbone to more rural areas of the country and then having ISPs charge from the middlebone to homes rather than all the way back to the backbone. This is the heart of the NC Connectivity project and I have high hopes for this in the Northeastern part of our state. But they recognize that infrastructure is only part of the problem, that 30% of Americans have never used the Internet - Why? Is it access or is it lack of understanding? I think it could be a mixture of both and I'm glad to see that a technology infrastructure person doesn't just think - "If you build it they will come."

Now of course the Q&A portion came up and I asked my question - "What is the future of education in the Internet Age? How do you envision the classroom of the future?"

I didn't exactly get the answer I was looking for. Burners-Lee answered that he learned best in an individualized, customized environment. That he would want the latest and fastest computer, a fast internet connection, a large monitor and huge speakers. That he would connect to other people around the world, but that learning didn't have to occur in the classroom. That last bit gave me hope, I don't think that the size monitor students have will make such a huge difference, but I do like that he is thinking of learning and the classroom outside of school walls. I was blown away by what happened next - Danny Weitzner asked me what a future classroom could look like. I responded with the best 60 sec elevator speech I have: (written much more eloquently than I actually said it)

Technology in the classroom should be ubiquitious, it should involve constant contact to the internet. That students do not need to be in a classroom to learn and that they should be making global connections. That project-based learning should be at the heart of the classroom - working on real-world problems and solutions. That our students may come up with the answers to problems that we have never been able to solve if we would give them the opportunity to do so.

At the end of the day - getting the nodding heads of the crowd and Vint Cert, just about made my day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Futureweb WWW2010 Conference Day 1 - Opening Session

The opening session for WWW 2010 (which btw is pronounced dub-dub-dub) was given by Vint Cert, the chief Internet Evangelist for Google, and AKA the Father of the Internet. His plenary session was eyeopening - I mean just look at the description:

Bandwidth, Clouds and Things, Oh My! What happens when bandwidth isn’t a bottleneck? What happens when end to end speeds approach or exceed a gigabit per second? What happens when billions of devices populate the Internet, including appliances? What happens when the smart grid meets the Internet of Things and clouds interconnect in a rainbow of photons? How does this transform the World Wide Web? These and other ideas will occupy our attention as we explore a speculative future.

Many of the sessions I would listen to as part of this conference will be focused on not only the Future of The Internet, but what data we have about the current Internet. Some interesting points:
  • 1802 Million Internet Users
  • Asia has the largest Internet population, but only 20% penetration
  • Authenticity of both people and servers is important and has privacy implications
  • Digital signatures - in which jurisdictions will a digital signature be honored?
  • Bad passwords and lax users are the worst security breech in existence
  • We have naive browsers, smart botnets and malware. We have compromised computers through our browsers. (love this analogy - it is akin to someone using your car while you sleep).
  • Compare cloud computing to the separate networks of 1973. We need inter-cloud interactions and liberate data
  • The WWW is one large copier, and the answer is not DRM, but Intellectual Property Rights
  • We don't need to replicate the physical world in the digital one.
  • Bit rot - how do we hold onto information as the systems and software of the future come? Will a webpage made in 1995 be available in 21995?
  • You should have MULTIPLE strong identities, just like we have multiple ID badges.
  • We need liscence free shared spectrum to increase bandwidth available. We need radio based distributions. For this to happen policy needs to change in the US
I fell I could write an entire blog post on each and every one of these posts. But, the main takeaway from his talk was that the technology will not get into the way of what we are trying to do, but will be held back by what we can imagine possible.

There are some great videos available from FutureWeb if you would like to see it check it out!

Monday, May 3, 2010

I met the inventor of the Internet.....

... and he isn't Al Gore. Seriously, I met Vint Cert & Sir Tim Burners-Lee the pioneers of the hardware and software that made the Internet and the WWW possible. How does little ol' me get to meet such important people? Shear luck. The WWW2010 conference, which last year was in Madrid and next year will be in India, happened this year to be in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but boy am I glad it did. Technically, I went to the co-hosted Future Web Conference, which was basically a sub-section of WWW2010 and we didn't get the free food or cool bags (I ended up buying one they were so awesome).
This was the most geeky and less techie conference I have ever been to. It was the 500,000 feet look at the future of the Internet, including ideas about Net Neutrality, Open Source, Internet Access and Privacy. My next few blog posts will hopefully give a glimpse into this world of WWW and how I think education fits into all that. Also, I did a test of my new iPad and comparing its usage with my Netbook - I'll be posting the results of who won the conference travel award soon!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

MEGA: Collaboration in 21st Century Classrooms: Showcase

My favorite part of the school year is when we wind down and get to show-off all the projects we have accomplished over the year. The MEGA Showcase is the best place for this to take place! MEGA has evolved over the years and is one of the major outreach arms of the College of Ed. (I highly recommend signing up for their listserv). The showcase is starting to feel like a reunion of sorts, where people I know on Twitter get together to share what they are doing in person. Kelly Hines came all the way from Chocowinity Primary School to share how she "goes global" with her elementary students. Meredith Stewart brought her amazing students to showcase all of the collaborative writing projects (Have you seen her literary magazine!) Eric Cole from McDowell County schools shared their podcasting projects. Lucas Gillispie showcased his WoW in Schools project - edurealms. All of the students were crowed around his demo! I could go on and on about these amazing projects, check out the complete list on the event page. If you've never made it to a MEGA Showcase, I heartily encourage you to come and learn from others in the educational community. We really are doing some amazing things in North Carolina!