Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The K-12 Open Minds Conference: Open Source in Education

Some of you may know that one of my educational passions--besides Web 2.0--is the use of Open Source Software. I hope you'll forgive me for this one-day promotional blitz on the K12 Open Minds Conference, Sept. 25 - 27, in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you have an interest in Open Source Software and its benefits for K-12 schools, I hope you will consider attending and/or presenting. I'm on the conference planning committee, and am doing work for NCOSE, the non-profit running the conference.

Please distribute widely this information widely. General conference information is at http://www.k12openminds.org. The call for speakers information is at http://www.k12openminds.org/conference/call-for-speakers/. Sponsorship information is at http://www.k12openminds.org/sponsors.html/.


Schools around the United States and the world are discovering the benefits of Open-Source Software. In Indiana alone, over 150,000 students use Open-Source Software every day. Not only does Open-Source Software save money, it allows schools to extend essential educational software to students' homes and into after-school programs, providing extended learning opportunities at no cost.

  • Are you looking for ways to provide more technology with less money?
  • Could your teachers benefit from a Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle, Sakai)?
  • Do you want a solution for all of your students to access their school work from home?
  • Is your school community looking for ways to increase student engagement and learning?
  • Have you thought about developing an Open-Source Software strategy to increase technology access while controlling costs?

Join us September 25-27, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana for the K-12 Open Minds Conference! This is an unparalleled opportunity to talk with teachers, administrators and technology staff from around the U.S. and the world. We expect more than 600 attendees, from the US, Europe, Asia and North and South America. Dozens of sessions that address teaching and learning, leadership and technical issues related to open technologies make this conference a "must attend" event.

Teaching and Learning sessions will feature experienced teachers from around the world demonstrating successful strategies and techniques. Technology and Infrastructure sessions will feature experts from around the world on issues such as: connecting to your local Windows or Mac authentication server, managing large and small network deployments, and using interactive whiteboards in classrooms in Linux and open-source environments, and more. Additional sessions designed for Leadership and Policy will demonstrate how policy initiatives and effective strategies for using Open-Source Software help to meet your educational objectives.

Featured Speakers include:

  • Donna Benjamin - Executive Director of Creative Contingencies and board member of Open Source Industry Australia;
  • Alex Inman -- Director of Technology at Whitfield School, St. Louis, MO - an Essential School using open source;
  • Chris Lehman -- Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA, and;
  • Dr. David Thornburg - Director of Global Operations for the Thornburg Center and author of several books including, When the Best is Free.

For more information and to register go to: http://k12openminds.org A special conference hotel rate of $97 is available at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott through Monday, August 25, 2008. After that, rates may be higher.

If you have any questions please contact me (see below) or Mike Huffman at 317.232.6672 or mhuffman@doe.in.gov

Steve Hargadon
916-899-1400 cell

Friday, July 25, 2008

Video Conference Discussion of Content Creation Idea

This great discussion (forward to 13 minutes 40 seconds) centers on some great "philosophical" questions by Caroline (?) from Scott Merrick's class that did a video interview of me this week. When is enough enough? How many social networks can there be? How do we integrate Web 2.0 into our lives? How much time will it take, and where is that time supposed to come from? Way to ask GREAT questions, Caroline!

Find more videos like this on Classroom 2.0

The Solution to Content Overload: A Thought Takes Flight

I'm intrigued at how an idea can grow, morph, and improve over time. For several months I have made the paradoxical claim that the solution to content overload is to create more content.

What I've meant by this is that the act of creating content helps to teach us how this new world of ever-increasing content works. And when we teach others to be content creators, we help them to better understand this new world so that they can be better consumers of content themselves. A good example of this is how the act of choosing a license under which to publish content gives us (and students) a better understanding of how to respect others' licensing choices.

But it turns out that I'm discovering a richer meaning to the paradoxical answer. One that I instinctively knew was there, but hadn't been able to verbalize fully until now.

I see the Web moving from a "publishing" platform to a "conversation" platform. We will drive ourselves crazy if we continue to think of the Web as an ever-growing repository of information to consume. And so within that vision it would be reasonable to ask--as many have done--why the ordinary user should add more content, much of which will be of questionable value when measure by the yardstick of authoritative voices. However, as the Web grows it is becoming less about accumulation and aggregation of content, and more and more a vehicle for participating in engaged learning conversations (both synchronous or asynchronous).

And when we teach content creation we are actually teaching the ability to take part in these conversations. And the ability to take part in these conversations, I believe, will define our learning, our careers, and our sense of personal accomplishment.

Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education (Talk)

This is the audio/slide recording of my talk "Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education," given as the keynote address for the Knowledge Bank online conference, "Learning in a changing world - Web 2.0 and beyond." The original Elluminate recording is at that site, as well as those of the other conference sessions.

My original blog posts on this topic are here and here. I felt I did a better this particular version of tying some of the threads together.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Social Networking in Education Has a Milestone Day

Two big milestones...

Thanks to all of you who are using Classroom 2.0 and who have helped to show the value of collaborative social communities in professional development and education. As of earlier today we now have over 10,000 members... amazing!

Thanks for all of your great questions, discussions, and collaborations--and especially for your welcoming attitudes and the way in which you invite and help other educators to learn about Web 2.0 and colllaborative technologies.

And... Ning in Education just hit 2,000 members. What a day...!

Thanks to everyone there for your progressive exploring and use of Ning and social networking in education. It's great to be associated with you. Don't forget to add your educational Ning networks to the wiki at http://socialnetworksined.wikispaces.com/. If you need help doing so, feel free to email me.

Big thanks go to the folks at Ning (Marc, Gina, Athena, Bob, Kyle, and everyone else) who've helped to create a product that--while not intended for the education market--has been so helpful in showing that social networking can have a great and positive impact on education. Your support, your enthusiasm, and the ad-free program have been great!

Kind of spooky (and fun) that both networks hit such significant milestones with a few hours of each other.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PBS Impresses Me

IMG_0244.JPGI had a fascinating couple of days at PBS at the end of last week.

Kim Smith, who's the new Education vice-president for PBS, has asked me to do some consulting for them as part of their launching a new teacher network: PBS Teachers Connect. PBS Teachers Connect is "an online community of teachers exchanging ideas, resources and instructional strategies on the integration of digital media and technology," and I'd gotten to know Kim from their consideration of Ning as the platform for this new program. As it turned out, PBS was going to need some customization and integration that Ning couldn't provide--but they still wanted me to provide some help from my experiences with community-building in a social networking environment for education (Classroom 2.0). And part of that help was an invitation to their annual PBS Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) meeting in Washington, DC.

I left the experience very impressed with the people who work at PBS, their sincere desire to help educators, and the quality of the brainstorming that took place. In fact, if the education organization at PBS can bring to their new online teacher community the same level of engaged dialog that was present over the two days in our physical meeting, I believe they will continue to make a real difference to educators and education.

Early in day one Rob Lippincott, PBS's Senior Vice President for Education, quoted from the "Remarks of President Lyndon B. Johnson Upon Signing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967," which I quote below. Wow. It's not hard to see in these words the noble desire by the PBS education leadership team right now:

I believe the time has come to stake another claim in the name of all the people, stake a claim based upon the combined resources of communications. I believe the time has come to enlist the computer and the satellite, as well as television and radio, and to enlist them in the cause of education.

If we are up to the obligations of the next century and if we are to be proud of the next century as we are of the past two centuries, we have got to quit talking so much about what has happened in the past two centuries and start talking about what is going to happen in the next century beginning in 1976.

So I think we must consider new ways to build a great network for knowledge--not just a broadcast system, but one that employs every means of sending and storing information that the individual can use.

Think of the lives that this would change:--the student in a small college could tap the resources of a great university.

Was that ever prescient?!

Some additional highlights and notes from the meeting:
  • Rob, Kim, Jenny--are you blogging? Your voices are needed... :)
  • John Boland, the Chief Content Officer at PBS, said that for the last six weeks the PBS site has had more visitors than any other network website. That really surprised me, especially because of the streaming content some of the other networks are offering, which I would assume really drives traffic to them. I'd be very interested in understanding why this is happening.
  • Rob Lippincott spoke early on in one of the few "formal" presentations. Here are some notes from that talk:
    • 73 million people a week "visit" PBS in some way.
    • 204,000 came to PBS Teachers last month (http://www.pbs.org/teachers/). They are happy with the growth, but feel it could be more.
    • PBS TeacherLine (http://www.pbs.org/teacherline/)--they also very happy with this program. 10,000/year teachers complete a course.
    • Satisfaction with use of video in classroom is stubbornly low--and teachers generally don't assign or recommend outside viewing.
    • PBS makes great television, but he feels they need to also make the right kind of video resources. If they can find out from educators how they using it, they can rethink how they produce it.
    • The ultimate goal is actually improving student achievement or engagement. How do they bring the power and value of media to bring engagement and achievement? What kind of content to teachers really want?
  • It was pretty clear early on that there is an inherent tension in the PBS desire to create Web resources for educators--a tension that they recognize, and to their great credit, are trying to figure out. On the one side, PBS produces highest-quality video media, and they want to make that available to educators. But on the other side, the "Collaborative Web" or "Web 2.0" thrives through user creation and participation, however, which is not always highest-quality and is often not fully in the control of the platform provider. (I keep coming back to the story in Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody about how the pro-anorexia girls on the teen-girls' website ultimately ended up closing down the site.) How does a trusted brand like PBS keep that trust through high quality, but still take advantage of the engagement enabled by participation? Luckily for me (by design?), during the two days I was seated at the table with Jenny Bradbury, the Content Manager for PK-12 Education, who really "groks" this dilemma. From my perspective, PBS's trusted brand gives them the opportunity to move slowly (slowly by "Internet Time") and carefully, knowing that they have a commitment to finding ways to push the boundaries where possible. In the Internet Culture we're also learning, I think, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater--while I do look at slashdot for news, I usually have a more profound learning experience when reading a story from the Wall Street Journal. There is a real role for trusted content, and it is different than user-generated content.
  • Speaking of time, Rob Lippincott made reference in a comment to what I consider to be the second inherent tension/dilemma expressed in the meeting: that of feeling that PBS may already be a little late to the Web 2.0 party, but not wanting to rush so that they do things right. For me, there is another option to both the content and time dilemmas, which is for PBS just to provide the quality content, and by creating some open access to that content, allowing others to build the collaborative or participative structures that promote more interaction without compromising PBS. I think that the ability to embed PBS-branded content would allow for discussion and participation to take place in many more creative venues than PBS is in a position to actually explore, without ever eroding their quality or trust. As the founder of several Ning networks that would benefit from educators being able to showcase PBS content within the context of professional development discussions, I see great opportunities; I imagine PBS sees a mess of complex licensing issues for any existing content. :( I'm intrigued with the ability that Diigo has, though, to build community discussions around content without requiring that it be transferred in any way. I wonder if there is something there?
  • Kim Smith laid out some goals for PBS in education and specifically with PBS Teachers Connect. They are looking toward having 200,000 online teacher-members. Interestingly enough, this seems to highlight a third tension that was evident in the juxtaposition of Kim mentioning this goal, and then me talking about the relative loss of community feeling now that Classroom 2.0 is over 9,000 members. While "groups" within a social network can help this, ultimately size might be another argument for PBS to provide the content and let others organize around it in existing or new networks.
  • I was given a chance early on in the meeting to describe Classroom 2.0, to talk about what factors seem to have helped that particular niche network to gain such traction. I think the growth of Classroom 2.0 may, to some degree, reflect my own "inclusive" nature, and sincere desires to help beginners feel comfortable coming into the Web 2.0 world. I talked about how one of my first jobs out of college was being a tour manager for Stanford's Alumni Association, and how four years of managing travel groups did leave me with some defined beliefs in how to help a group function well. I'm intrigued to see that these lessons often seem to carry over into the virtual world. I think one of the biggest lessons from those physical groups was the importance of treating each individual with respect, and consistently working to create and environment of positive interactions. I also remember how profoundly important it was for the tour leader to have a balanced sense of the overall mission/experience, and to put small setbacks or events into a larger perspective. I not only "managed expectations" before experiences, I also often needed to provide context for evaluating what was taking place. I'm going to have to think some more about this, because even in just writing these thoughts down now I can see some more connections that will have to wait for a future post!
  • I also talked about the managing of problematic individual members in a community, and there definitely is a need for balance between treating individuals with respect and respecting the group as a whole. Clearly, in an open public environment, it is important that a social network manager quickly cut off members who are destructive to the group as a whole. That's easy on an education network when somebody comes on trying to sell something commercial and unrelated, but what about when it's a teacher whose personal style grates on others? Or it's a former teacher who now works for a commercial company, and where the line between contribution and salesmanship get blurry? That's fuzzy enough for Classroom 2.0 that I imagine it being even harder for PBS.
  • We also talked, albeit briefly, about the "live" events we've been holding with Classroom 2.0. These events are intended to really help at a grass-roots level, where teachers can come together and provide professional development to each other around Web 2.0. PBS has 355 stations around the country, and there are many great programs already being pursued locally by those stations to help educators. Some kind of PBS Teacher Academy makes a lot of sense, and could be done both locally and nationally.
  • As the tools of the Web become more integrated into PBS's own management programs, I can see a wonderful synergy continuing to grow between these local stations in their educational (and other) offerings. I was so excited by the idea that I wanted to go sit in a corner somewhere and just create a Ning network for this purpose! Hire me to do this, I told Jenny!
  • One constituency was noticeably absent from many of the discussions: students. It wasn't until we were in a brainstorming session about what local stations could do to promote the PBS educational Web resources that started to hear ideas about involving students (for example, having local stations do training on media production and licensing). I didn't think of this at the time, but a PBS for Students program (academy?) would make a ton of sense in this area, as well as maybe helping to address the current gap PBS feels in their programming and services for the middle to high-school audience. They have young viewers and old viewers, but not those in-between.
  • The idea of a PBS bus that would travel the country came up several times--sometimes jokingly, sometimes seriously. I have to say, it really stuck with me. Especially since it would be a way to tie the local stations to offering some kind of training or publicity associated with the arrival of the bus in an area, and could potentially tie in with the local ed tech conferences found in most states.
  • Jenny Bradbury and also had a great discussion around how you recognize or reward high participation in a social networking or collaborative content site. I definitely find myself leaning toward *not* rewarding, as I feel the participation and peer recognition are what really drive contribution--and that formal recognition can change that dynamic in a "punished by rewards" way.
All in all, two of the most interesting days I've spent in a long while. Kudos to PBS, the education team, and the educators who came and contributed to the advisory group meeting.

["P-head" pipe-cleaner creation by Sara Reibman--wow! Photos of "P-head" and the group courtesy of Amos, an intern at PBS. Thanks, Sara and Amos!]

Saturday, July 05, 2008

NECC 2008 Wrap-up Show Links

Thanks to all who made this a very interesting and productive show/meeting/webcast! We had 60+ in the discussion through at least the first hour, and I thought it was, again, a great example of the community at work. I couldn't post this as a comment to the previous blog post because the URLs weren't coming through with hot links.

As Gailene pointed out in the NECC2008 network, here's the link to the NECC 2008 Ning group for this wrap-up discussion: http://www.necc2008.org/group/necc2008wrapup

Here's a link to the recorded Elluminate session (audio and screen/video): https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2008-07-05.0648.M.589A53B224FA53960BB34088144B52.vcr

And the link to the agenda, notes, links, and chat log: http://www.classroom20wiki.com/NECC+2008+Wrapup+and+Review

The last page should be really helpful if folks will continue to add comments and links there. As well, NECC 2008 forum discussion (or here) could serve as an additional place for your thoughts: http://www.necc2008.org/forum/topic/show?id=1997968%3ATopic%3A32749

Friday, July 04, 2008

NECC Wrap-up Show--Live, Saturday, July 5th, 8am Pacific / 11am Eastern / 3pm GMT

I've decided that I'm going to take at least one whole day this next week to focus just on NECC: I'll try to read through all the blog posts, watch as much recorded footage as I can, find podcasts and download them, and look for all the links to cool Web 2.0 applications.

Then I realize that I might not be the only one looking to do this, so if we used our Classroom 2.0 Web Week in Review show scheduled for tomorrow, we could probably collaborate to make a great list of all the resources available.

So we'll be having an NECC wrap-up and review show tomorrow morning--while memories are still fresh! EduBloggerCon, NECC Unplugged, the Bloggers' Cafe, and all the rest. The best links, leads, streams, podcasts, vlogs, and blogs. What you loved, what you didn't. We'll try and document all in a special 90-minute show.

Details at http://www.classroom20wiki.com/live+conversations/, or log in directly for the show at https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=1101&password=M.8DAFD346DA4B268DC185FED8466556