Thursday, May 31, 2007

Clarifying the Discussion on Educational Technology

In thinking about the dialog taking place at Classroom 2.0 on U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings four questions about educational technology, it occurred to me that we need to remember that the computer is a tool that can be used in many different ways for very different and valuable outcomes.

Using this as a starting point, here are my first thoughts at categorizing those uses--which might then lead to better dialog about each one. (I'm sure this is not new ground, and I am *NOT* an expert, so refinement is welcome.) I do think that once there is good categorization, dialog based on the categories might make a lot of sense, as there are likely to be different opinions about technology depending on the intended outcome. Maybe then we can start the wiki that Andy Carvin has asked for...

Categorizing beneficial uses of technology in education (take one):
  • Administrative (traditional: accounting, attendance, scheduling, etc.)
  • Administrative (progressive: "data mining," student trends, early problem detection, etc.)
  • Teacher Use
    • Preparation
    • In-class (projector, whiteboard, etc.)
    • Professional Development
  • Student Productivity
    • Writing Tool (descendant of pencil and typewriter, keyboarding)
    • Business Analysis Tool (spreadsheets, databases, presentation programs)
  • Instructional
    • Computer-aided Instruction (software to aid in teaching existing material)
    • Programming (Logo, logic training)
  • Professional Training
    • Programming
    • Computer administration
    • Design and manufacture (PC)
    • Specialty program (CAD, animation, etc.)
  • Learning Enhancement (probably the main focus of this Classroom 2.0 network)
    • Writing (blogging)
    • Communication (email, video-conferencing, internal and external communication)
    • Self-study
    • Distance education
    • Collaboration (messaging, wikis, web 2.0)
    • Customized Learning Platform
  • Future / Unknown / Transformational (uses of the computer that we cannot predict, but which will come just from having the technology available)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Significant Opportunity: Feedback to U.S. Secretary of Education Spellings

For those in the U.S., Secretary Margaret Spellings has asked for ideas on the integration of technology in education. There is a form on the site, but no ability to dialog or even leave your contact information if you fill it out. Therefore, I have created a forum thread for each of Secretary Spellings' questions at, and propose that we discuss them there and invite her office to view the dialog on this website and even participate.

This is a terrific opportunity to not only respond but to also show the benefit of Web 2.0 technology in addressing this kind of issue. Please invite your friends and colleagues to join Classroom 2.0 and participate in this important discussion.

Here are the questions, each linked to their own forum thread:

1. In what ways has technology improved the effectiveness of your classroom, school or district?

2. Based on your role (administrator, parent, teacher, student, entrepreneur, business leader), how have you used educational data to make better decisions or be more successful?

3. In what ways can technology help us prepare our children for global competition and reach our goals of eliminating achievement gaps and having all students read and do math on grade level by 2014?

4. What should be the federal government's role in supporting the use of technology in our educational system?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

K-12 Online 2007: Call for Proposals!

Announcing the second annual “K12 Online” conference for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice! This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26 of 2007, and will include a preconference keynote during the week of October 8. This years conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries.” A call for proposals is below.

There will be four “conference strands”– two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday - Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two-weeks. Each presentation will be given in any of a variety of downloadable, web based formats and released via the conference blog ( and archived for posterity.

Week 1
Strand A: Classroom 2.0
Leveraging the power of free online tools in an open, collaborative and transparent atmosphere characterises teaching and learning in the 21st century. Teachers and students are contributing to the growing global knowledge commons by publishing their work online. By sharing all stages of their learning students are beginning to appreciate the value of life long learning that inheres in work that is in “perpetual beta.” This strand will explore how teachers and students are playing with the boundaries between instructors, learners and classrooms. Presentations will also explore the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes.

Strand B: New Tools
Focusing on free tools, what are the “nuts and bolts” of using specific new social media and collaborative tools for learning? This strand includes two parts. Basic training is “how to” information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers. Advanced training is for teachers interested in new tools for learning, looking for advanced technology training, seeking ideas for mashing tools together, and interested in web 2.0 assessment tools. As educators and students of all ages push the boundaries of learning, what are the specific steps for using new tools most effectively? Where “Classroom 2.0″ presentations will focus on instructional uses and examples of web 2.0 tool use, “New Tools” presentations should focus on “nuts and bolts” instructions for using tools. Five “basic” and five “advanced” presentations will be included in this strand.

Week 2
Strand A: Professional Learning Networks
Research says that professional development is most effective when it aims to create professional learning communities — places where teachers learn and work together. Using Web 2.0 tools educators can network with others around the globe extending traditional boundaries of ongoing, learner centered professional development and support. Presentations in this strand will include tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; concrete examples of how the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs) are being used; how to create a supportive, reflective virtual learning community around school-based goals, and trends toward teacher directed personal learning environments.

Strand B: Obstacles to Opportunities
Boundaries formalized by education in the “industrial age” shouldn’t hinder educators as they seek to reform and transform their classroom practice. Playing with boundaries in the areas of copyright, digital discipline and ethics (e.g. cyberbullying), collaborating globally (e.g. cultural differences, synchronous communication), resistance to change (e.g. administration, teachers, students), school culture (e.g. high stakes testing), time (e.g. in curriculum, teacher day), lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, control (e.g. teacher control of student behavior/learning), solutions for IT collaboration and more — unearthing opportunities from the obstacles rooted in those boundaries — is the focus of presentations in this strand.

This call encourages all, experienced and novice, to submit proposals to present at this conference via this link. Take this opportunity to share your successes, strategies, and tips in “playing with boundaries” in one of the four strands as described above.

Deadline for proposal submissions is June 18, 2007. You will be contacted no later than June 30, 2007 regarding your status.

Presentations may be delivered in any web-based medium that is downloadable (including but not limited to podcasts, screencasts, slide shows) and is due one week prior to the date it is published.

Please note that all presentations will be licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

As you draft your proposal, you may wish to consider the presentation topics listed below which were suggested in the comments on the K-12 Online Conference Blog:

  • special needs education
  • Creative Commons
  • Second Life
  • podcasting
  • iPods
  • video games in education
  • specific ideas, tips, mini lessons centered on pedagogical use of web 2.0 tools
  • overcoming institutional inertia and resistance
  • aligning Web 2.0 and other projects to national standards
  • getting your message across
  • how web 2.0 can assist those with disabilities
  • ePortfolios
  • classroom 2.0 activities at the elementary level
  • creating video for TeacherTube and YouTube
  • google docs
  • teacher/peer collaboration

The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who is distinguished and knowledgeable in the context of their strand. Keynoters will be announced shortly.

This year’s conveners are:

Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is known internationally for his ability to weave the use of online social tools meaningfully and concretely into his pedagogical practice and for “child safe” blogging practices. He has more than 20 years experience in both formal and informal education and 13 years experience in team building and leadership training. Darren has been facilitating workshops for educators in groups of 4 to 300 for the last 10 years. Darren’s professional blog is called A Difference ( He will convene Classroom 2.0.

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, a 20-year educator, has been a classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, and digital learning consultant. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching graduate and undergraduate preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where she is also completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. In addition, Sheryl is co-leading a statewide 21st Century Skills initiative in the state of Alabama, funded by a major grant from the Microsoft Partners in Learning program. Sheryl blogs at ( She will convene Preconference Discussions and Personal Learning Networks.

Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change agent. With respect to school change, he describes himself as a “catalyst for creative educational engagement.” His blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” was selected as the 2006 “Best Learning Theory Blog” by eSchoolnews and Discovery Education. He is the Director of Education Advocacy (PK-20) for AT&T in the state of Oklahoma. Wes blogs at ( Wes will convene New Tools.

Lani Ritter Hall currently contracts as an instructional designer for online professional development for Ohio teachers and online student courses with eTech Ohio. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who served in many capacities during her 35 years as a classroom and resource teacher in Ohio and Canada. Lani blogs at ( Lani will convene Obstacles to Opportunities.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Three Interview Clips on Classroom 2.0, Edubloggercon 2007, and Open Source Software

Kevin Honeycutt from Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK), and an active participant in our Classroom 2.0 social networking site, asked if he could interview me last week as part of his "Driving Questions Podcast". Normally, I leave the interviewing for ME to do, but I did welcome the chance to talk about Classroom 2.0. As it turns out, we segued into several other topics, including Free and Open Source Software, EduBloggerCon 2007, and the Open Source Pavilion at NECC.

Kevin split the interview into three shorter parts:

Part One (Classroom 2.0)
Part Two (Free and Open Source Software)
Part Three (Puppy Linux, Linux Thin Client, NECC, and EduBloggerCon2007)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ready for Prime Time: Open Source Programs for the K-12 Desktop

This week I moderated a CoSN webcast on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) with guests Laura Taylor (the director of the Office of Learning Resources at the Indiana Department of Education) and Jim Klein (the director of Information Services & Technology at Saugus Union School District in California). Below is a starter list of FOSS programs we came up with for the K-12 desktop that you can start using in the classroom right away--and that can be given to students for free.

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to:
  • Record live audio
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files
  • Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording
  • And more!
Blender is the Open Source Software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation, and playback. Blender allows students and teachers to animate 3D computer graphics.

The free space simulation that lets users explore the universe in three dimensions. Celestia comes with a large catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and spacecraft, as well as a catalog of additional downloads. Students and teachers can plot a course and navigate a 3D solar system. See also

Dia is inspired by the commercial Windows program 'Visio', though more geared towards informal diagrams for casual use. Teachers and students can use it to draw many different kinds of diagrams.

FreeMind is a premier, free mind-mapping software written in Java. Teachers and students can use mind map diagrams to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in planning, organization, problem solving, and decision making.

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. GIMP works on many operating systems, in many languages.
See also

Knoppix is actually a full operating system with a collection of programs, and is downloadable as a .iso CD image file. KNOPPIX is the technician's best friend, and actually runs as what is known as a "Live CD," meaning that you can boot KNOPPIX from your CD ROM drive and it doesn't affect (or need) the PC's hard drive at all. KNOPPIX gives you an incredible variety of utility and recovery programs for troubleshooting and solving PC issues.

Moodle is a course management system, designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities. It can be downloaded and used on any computer (including webhosts), yet it can scale from a single-teacher site to a 50,000-student university. We're calling it a desktop program since you access Moodle using the web browser, but it does need to be installed on a server somewhere. the product is a multi-platform office productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to other office suites. Sophisticated and flexible, also works transparently with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office, and the vendor-neutral OpenDocument standard from OASIS.

Scribus brings award-winning professional page layout to desktops with a combination of "press-ready" output and new approaches to page layout. Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.

The Open CD is actually not a program, but a very easy-to-distribute collection of popular free and open source software programs, including most of the titles mentioned so far, and many more. You download the .iso image file, and can burn and distribute this as a single CD for both educators and students to install these programs.

Tux Paint
Tux Paint is a drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program. Kids are presented with a blank canvas and a variety of drawing tools to help them be creative.

Ubuntu is a full operating system, like Windows or the Mac OS, which can run either as a "Live CD" or can be installed fully on the hard drive. Ubuntu has really come of age and is rapidly becoming an incredibly useful alternative when looking for a robust, easy-to-use, free operating system. There is a special version for education community (includes new thin-client LTSP) at, and another version for old computers called Xubuntu at

Thursday, May 03, 2007

NECC 2007 Open Source Pavilion - Making Plans!

OK, NECC is coming up (June 24 - 27 in Atlanta), and this is a combination of a status report and a call for volunteers/help.

Please forward this post to your Free and Open Source Software friends!

NECC is the National Educational Computing Conference, and it attracts over 15,000 educators each year. It's one of the largest (if not the largest) educational technology shows in the world. For the last several years NECC has supported an "Open Source Pavilion" (apologies to Richard Stallman) with a Linux thin-client lab for demonstration purposes. Last year we added a speaker series, which is now a part of the main NECC program. This year we are getting our own large room (!!) and adjacent hallway space. Hurrah!

This years speakers can be seen at our organizing wiki: There will also be two "Birds of a Feather" sessions on FLOSS:

OK. Now, about getting help!

We need:

1. "Swag." We've gone round about on this, and aren't sure how successful it is to give things away, but people sure like it. CDs/DVDs have been the rule, but we wouldn't turn down t-shirts or buttons or pens or anything. OK, you big-gun FLOSS companies--this is easy stuff!
2. Logistical funding. We are bringing 60+ computers to Atlanta, a couple of servers, and lots of networking gear. Got some extra cash? We'd also love to get some brightly-colored t-shirts for our volunteers.
3. Setup volunteers. We'll set up the lab and computers late Saturday afternoon/evening. Maybe we'll get some pizzas and make it a party.
4. Volunteer for "milling around." The Open Source Pavilion needs folks who'll just answer questions (mostly really basic) about what FLOSS is. Come for an hour, or come for three days.
5. "Playground booths." These are 5 - 10 stations where we'll be demonstrating different FLOSS programs. Previously we've showcased OpenOffice, GIMP, Audacity, Linspire, SchoolTool, Edubuntu, Moodle, Firefox, and Knoppix. We're open to just about anything that you'd like to demonstrate that will give our attendees some good hands-on, one-on-one demonstrations. We welcome proposals from commercial vendors who will commit themselves to also supporting the FLOSS ideals and helping out in general.
6. Podcasting. Want to record our speakers for posting audio recordings of their presentations? (Paul Nelson?) Let us know.
7. Computers. It would help a ton to have computers/laptops we don't have to ship from California for the thin-client lab. Also, each playground booth will need two or three computers for demonstrations.
8. Students. Got some students who are using FLOSS? We'd love them to help in the Pavilion and demonstrate at the playground booths. They get a free t-shirt and lunch each day. We've even got some open, unscheduled lab time and we could have them do short presentations!

You can go to the wiki ( to sign up to volunteer or send me an email ( letting me know what you can do.

Also: For reference, my interview series on FLOSS in education is at And are you an educational blogger? Check out our all-day Saturday EduBloggerCon 2007 meet-up.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tim O'Reilly on Web 2.0 and Education

"I think we're in--in a lot of ways--a period of the most profound reinvention of and how people need to learn since the invention of literacy."

Tim O'Reilly is the founder of O'Reilly Media, and one of the originators of the phrase "Web 2.0." His essay on Web 2.0 certainly is considered the seminal description.

Tim and I talked about Web 2.0, education, and what the future holds for networked computing. I haven't put this in my "School 2.0" series because, as you'll hear, Tim's take on education isn't nearly as technology-focused as one might expect.

Topics that Tim covers in the interview:
  • Being self-taught
  • Having a mental model of how the world works to let you figure out what's important
  • A new "digital divide" today between those who know how to think about search and those who don't; those who know where the current hot information is being shared, and those who don't.
  • Tim's skepticism of formal education, coming from the computer industry and seeing creativity from those with very different backgrounds, with their formal education almost alway not in the area where they have made an impact (himself included).
  • Self-learning.
  • How most periods of a creative renaissance start with inspired amateurs.
  • The importance of "doing things," "tinkering,", and "exploratory learning."
  • That "engagement" is not new to Web 2.0, but the opportunity is being democratized by the technology.
  • That it is important not to generalize too much about where the technology is headed from the initial formative period.
  • How he believes that spending on educational technology is a bad idea (smile!), and that smaller class sizes would make the most difference in education, period, by giving more interaction with passionate adults who have time and ability to focus on kids. (See if you feel comfortable with how I respond to this point.)
  • How we need to get rid of unionized seniority to get fresh blood, so the best can rise to the top instead of the most senior. (Again, I'm interested in your responses to this and your take on how I responded.)
  • Open Source software, and how Web 2.0 is actually antithetical to open source software.
  • Clayton Christiansen's "law of conservation of attractive profits," where value in Web applications moving toward the harnessing and collecting of data and intelligence.
  • How it's not free software that we need but free data.
  • The inevitability of large companies absorbing the web 2.0 technologies by leveraging their data collection capabilities.
  • The biggest change he sees on horizon: collective intelligence based on our being "sensory enabled." "Live Software" that learns from that data.
  • What Web 2.0 technologies that he likes
  • His final words for educators: "have fun." Share your own enthusiasm, excitement, and passion.

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