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« Head for the Edge columns online | Main | NECC presenters - you better be good »

A day of conversations

On China's policy to filter the Internet:
Once you start censoring the Web, you restrict the ability to imagine and innovate. You are telling young Chinese that if they really want to explore, they need to go abroad. - Tom Friedman

Edubloggercon, the preconference un-event, has been so tweeted and blogged about that I feel redundant posting here. Like others have commented, an entire day set aside to discuss, reflect, argue and learn is a gift. It's a stimulating mix of big Kahunas in the field like Dave Warlick and Joyce Valenza and Vicki Davis, rising stars like Jeff Utecht and Scott McLeod and Kirstin Hokanson, and lots of fresh faces who had the courage to wear little blue buttons that read "Help Me, I'm a Newbie."

I have to say the day started a little slow for me. After sitting on the now annual "Web 2.0 Smackdown," a hour or so of two minute intros to new online tools, I finally had to admit that new online tools are starting to bore me senseless. Judging from the group reaction, I am in the distinct minority here, but just how many ways can you graphically represent a image search or analyze your Twitter posts or shorten a URL? (For those who like such things, Scott McLeod posted a list of the tools shared here.)

What made my day were the policy-oriented discussions in the afternoon. Jon Becker's session asked if schools can fundamentally reinvent themselves. And Scott McLeod and guest Ann Flynn from the National School Boards Association led a discussion on school social web policies, asking the questions, "What do you want school boards to do for you and know about your work?"

The best such sessions can do is bring something simmering in the back one's brain to the front. For me it was vocabulary. Much of the talk centered around "social networking" and policies surrounding it. I've come to the conclusion that we should stop using the term. It connotes recreational/frivolous use of Internet resources.

Instead I propose we talk about "educational networking" and "social learning." When we describe our activities and tools with these terms, they not only sound more substantial, but I believe more accurately reflect what we're trying to do.

OK, so that was kind of a nice take-away for me. Oh, the other thing I learned that I will use was watching over Kathy Schrock's shoulder as she drug a web address out of her browser on to her Mac OSX's desktop, creating a little shortcut icon for the site there. I am probably the last person in the world to know that one can do this, but man, for those sites you only need to bookmark for a short time period, what nice little trick.

Along with the blue "help me" buttons Edubloggers could wear were orange ones that read "I'm an Expert. Ask me for help." I couldn't decide which to wear. It all depends on the topic at hand, I guess.

Oh, as always the topic of Internet filtering was front and center, so Tom Friedman's observation above from his recent column about the need for innovation in tough economic times caught my eye. Ought those of us in the West also take his words to heart? The quote needs to be changed a only little:

Once you start censoring the Web, you restrict the ability to imagine and innovate. You are telling young Chinese students that if they really want to explore, they need to go abroad get away from school. - Tom Friedman The Blue Skunk


Where's Waldo? (Edubloggercon '09). Picture from event's wiki.


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Reader Comments (5)

Thanks for a great post and for calling me a 'rising star,' Doug! I really like your re-working of the Friedman quote. Definitely food for thought!

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott McLeod

Thank you for sharing what you learned at NECC. I like your changing the term social networking to educationaI networking or social learning. Social networking has a huge stigma attached to it. My district does not allow any social networking site, no matter what the educational purposes could be. We still need to guarantee safety for our students, but to totally block any social networking (or Web 2.0) site does not help our students at all. We must create an environment that embraces new technologies and teaches students the proper uses of them.

I especially like your twist on Tom Friedman's quote. The same can be said about teachers. I have attended numerous trainings, as well as taking on-line PD courses. I always find something that I could use in the classroom to further my lessons with my students. Unfortunately, I can only use these away from school.

My take: Once you start censoring the Web, you restrict the ability of teachers to create meaningful experiences for their students thus allowing them to imagine and innovate. You are telling young Chinese students teachers that if they really want to explore, they need to go abroad get away from the school system concede and pull out the text book. - Tom Friedman The Blue Skunk M. Hall

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM Hall

Hi Scott,

Great seeing you at NECC. I was hesitant to call you a "rising" star since you are already so well known and respected. I have to say your preso was the best of the conference for me.

All the best,


Hi M. Hall,

The blocking/censorship issue seemed to be a hot topic at NECC this year. But most of us were preaching to the choir about the need for less restrictive access.

I appreciate the comment,


July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Once again it was so great to see you. I have to say I am humbled and flattered being referenced not only as a "rising star" but in the company of Jeff & Scott...WOW. Thanks again for your honesty and willingness to challenge the system and make folks think- I think I am going to use your terms...educational networking and social learning- after all isn't that what it is all about-learning together?

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin Hokanson

Thanks, Kirstin. Wish we'd had more time to visit. Keep up YOUR good work!


July 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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