Coffee with David Warlick

I had the privilege of spending some time today with David Warlick. (We didn’t actually have coffee, we just sat on the floor and talked) David as most of you know is passionate about helping teachers understand the changing world and telling the new story of learning. As David stated to me, it’s really old stories.

We had a great conversation ranging from blogging to our kids, to our work, politics and the differences between our countries. We’ve been part of many of these conversations online, it was nice to do it face to face. We were able to discuss things like old friends. Perhaps that’s presumptuous of me but because of this thing called the blogosphere, it really did feel familiar. Later David presented to a large crowd. From there he jumped on a plane and headed back to North Carolina to finish up another conference.

Thanks again David for the talk.

Harnessing the New Shape of Information…David Warlick

These are my notes from David Warlick’s session.
The fact that this session is very full tells me people are hungry for ideas about the Read/Write Web.

David’s presentation is all about the way these new tools are changing information. As a preliminary, David explained how his material is all online and in addition, has a wiki available for global editing and collaboration. A note taking feature is also attached to the wiki so anyone can include their notes. Will Richardson, who is sitting right in front of me is already placing notes on the wiki. A good number of people didn’t know what a wiki was.

David shows us 4 gray scale images and us if we can recognize them. Most couldn’t recognize more than 2. He asked everyone to share what they knew. “How many learned one by asking their neighbour?” Most said they did. A simple but great activity for demonstrating the power of collaboration. I might steal that one.

His son plays the Euphonium. He shows us the article in wikipedia and poses the question about whether or not it should be used. Classic responses around trust, credibility, authorship and censorship are elicited. Vandalism is fixed within 2 minutes. David talks about gate keeper issues and suggests using it with 5th graders and having them verify the validity of the article. Wikipedia now boasts 1,000,000 articles compared to 65,000 with Britannica. Nature magazine research concluded that the average wikipedia article has 4 errors compared to 3 with Britannica. Students can now be part of the global discussion. We need to teach students to prove the authority rather than assume it.

Mash-ups are web based applications built to import data from other sites. One of those visually demonstrates news stories that occur globally on a world map. David captured the daily map over the summer of 2005 and created a movie to show where news happened.

The long tail illustrates a growing market for everyone. David was able to publish his book 2 hours after it was written. He doesn’t plan to get rich but has been able to put his daughter through college.

Blogging began in the 18th century with pamphlets. The printing press allowed many people to publish. RSS allows you to keep track of blog entries and subscribe. He also shows how to subscribe to news feeds. We are training the information to find us.

Online bookmarking also incorporates RSS and tagging. Only 10 people have heard of del.icio.us.

David talks about the Personal Learning Network and his process of discovering others he can learn from. The idea of finding others through links and comments and finding powerful professional development.

The after the London bombings someone created a weblog and invited others to post. David shows some of the 2,000 photos that were submitted.

There weren’t many ideas here new to me but I appreciate the way David puts it together. I could tell many were quite amazed at the new landscape of learning. David and I entered the blogging world at roughly the same time and along with a host of others are experiencing many of these things together from an educational perspective.

What Students Will Need to Know and be able to Do…Willard Daggett

Willard Dagget makes a number of excellent points. He says we need to spend more time helping parents and the public understanding why we need to change. The data he uses is a combination of his own research team and a number of references from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

Globalization refers to the world wide competition that now exists in most of the working world. Since the information work now makes up 71% of all jobs, this is more critical than we thought. What this also means is the emphasis we’ve place on science and math must be increased. In the near future 90% of all engineers will be Asian. To me, this simply is a result of a society that was forced to change and recognize where the future lies. He provided some more statistics and concepts related to nano and bio technology. The concept of DNA computing replacing binary computer was something I’d never heard of. According to Daggett, this will replace everything….scary thought.

He then talked about his model school conference as a solution to this changing world. Ideas like looping, paring down curriculum and teaching technical reading. All these things are valid ideas. I’m not sure about the relationship between the first part of his talk and his solutions. I’m always a bit fearful of using the Asian explosion in technology as motivation. It almost comes across as a we/us mentality.

This is the third time I’ve heard him and was one of my first posts in my blogging life. His message is quite similar to the one from last year. His research team seems to keep him up to speed and it’s helpful to be able to have some insights into what’s ahead.

Note: I’m writing this beside Will Richardson who I think has some less than positive impressions of some of the speakers including Daggett.

Shopping is like your newsreader

Will posted about being an RSS fraud.

Yesterday, in three straight presentations about the wonders and potential of RSS to rock our eduworlds, I kept getting more and more embarrassed at the fact that when I showed my Bloglines account, which has ballooned up to 197 feeds, it was obvious that while I might be subscribed, I’m not keeping up with my reading. In fact, if you totalled up the number of unread messages in my list, it’s a very audience-appealing 3739.

He goes on to say:

I made the people in attendance yesterday swear that they would take a time out if they ever got up to 20 feeds in their aggregators. Hopefully, that will keep them from feeling like a total RSS failure if they should “get behind” in their reading.

I’ve been hovering around the 250 mark for quite a while. Currently, I’m at 260. I clean the house from time to time but always add a few, especially when local bloggers get going.

So why is a newsreader like a shopping? Recently, a friend of mine took our sons to Minneapolis for a sports weekend. We also hit the Mall of America. My shopping style is to do a quick cruise of the entire mall and then focus in on the stores I’m particularly interested in.  I like the fact there are other stores there that I may or may not go into. I’m aware they are there and given time, I may go in there because you never know if there’s something that interests you. I like malls. Lots of choices. I don’t feel like a failure if I don’t hit every store. Many stores I just peek in, get the drift and I’m out.

That’s why I have 260 feeds. I don’t get to them all but I like the choice.

Will sounds like a big box store guy. Fewer choices but lots of depth. Fortunately, there’s room for both. I just don’t see how you can get by with 20 stores/feeds.

Early Impressions of FETC 2006


I just wanted to make a few comments on my first impressions of FETC. I had a quick walk through the exhibits. Obviously the sheer volume of vendors provides quite an experience. Yet so many of them focused on the administration of education. I suppose that’s where much of the big dollars is to be made. Certainly coming from a school division of 7,000 students can’t compare to some of the school districts in the US of hundreds of thousands. These vendors are interested in making big deals with big districts. There’s nothing wrong with this but the majority of these do not have a direct focus on information literacy or the great tools of the read/write web. Is that because many of these tools are free?

Rudolph Crew spoke about some very important ideas including civic literacy and personal literacy. Civic literacy, as he describes, refers to the way students respond to the world. In many cases our students do not have the social understandings and appreciation to cope in the world. His explanation went deeper than this but basically he argued that while schools may be improving in some test scores and achievement, many students are graduating without the necessary interpersonal skills and awareness of civic issues to be the successful citizens we’d like to have. Although he didn’t explicitly state it, the relationship between this and information literacy is quite evident. Even though we know students are smart and have many skills and knowledge, they often struggle with people skills. Just as students bring many technological skills and understandings, they often don’t understand the implications or have the analytical skills to manage information.

I like what he had to say. Without having a indepth understanding of American education, I still wonder how he justifies the continued emphasis on testing and the less than adequate testing measures. But I’ll take away his ideas about not going along for the ride and being proactive in our quest to make the best use of technology and preparing students for the 21st century.