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EdTech Update





From complexity to clarity?

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. -  Einstein
Like many of us going to ALA and NECC this coming week, I am working on the presentations and workshops I'll be giving. While I take pride in all learning events in which I participate, these two summer conferences are ones for which I really take special care. The creme de la creme of the library and educational technology fields will be in Anaheim and San Antonio. Stanards and expectations are high. I don't really want to come off as a big doofus. And that takes work!
Following the wisdom of Presentation Zen master, Garr Reynolds, I've been working to de-wordify [my term] my slides and find visual images that will make a bigger impact. I don't know that I've reached presentation nirvana yet, but I'm getting better.
I've recently added my thoughts about the difference between entertainment and engagement to one of my workshops. And I've noticed a path along how these ideas evolve.
A workshop comment, reading or news item triggers some reflection which spurs a blog entry.
The blog entry becomes a column.
The idea becomes a bad slide. (Too bad that this is the final step for too many presenters.)
The slide gets better: 
Finally the slide gets a visual designed to create an emotional connection and a "catch phrase" hook:
As slides become more visual, less textual, they have less value without the oral commentary that accompanies them. I've never been one to readily share my slides anyway, preferring good handouts, and now giving them to others makes even less sense.
Oh, and like my writing, I find endless amusement in tweaking presentation slides. Does this mean I need to get a life?
What are your rules for creating a great presentation slide?  

Is enforcing common courtesy a bad thing?

This came in my e-mail the other day:

Hi Joyce and Doug,

...ProQuest will be making a montage of events at NECC and so has a camera crew retained and able to come to the breakfast. ProQuest has offered to video the talking portions of the breakfast, and that would be YOU both!

Peggy thinks it would be useful to have the video segments to use later to promote the SIG, etc. I believe SIGMS also plans to video the Forum later in the day. So, please let us know if you are okay w/being videod. Thanks much.

Paula Farley Jackson, Associate Publisher, Linworth Publishing

My reply:

I am OK with video provided you only shoot my good side and I NEVER have to watch it.


Now, was that so difficult?

There were some feathers ruffled by ISTE when it ordained that at this year's NECC "full video/audio" capture of sessions was not permitted without the written permission of both the presenter and ISTE.

This rule is only asking attendees to exhibit a little common courtesy. A pity that what seems like a simple polite behavior, asking permission, must be mandated.  I can certainly understand why presenters may prefer not to have their efforts video or audio-taped given the technical quality of some of these amateur recordings. There may be presenters for whom presenting is their livelihood for which such broadcasts may cut into their earnings. If such a rule is not in place, presenters need to know going in that their sessions are basically thrown into the public domain with or without their permission. And hey, maybe some people just plain don't like being recorded for whatever reason. Maybe you have a big zit on the end of your nose that day and it's not how you want others to think of you. Whatever.

Should permission from ISTE be required? For recordings of full sessions, I think so. No videotaping rules have long been announcement at concerts and theater events. How different is a keynote? Might educators who listen and view recordings of conference events never actually feel moved to attend NECC in person and so miss out the the powerful F2F networking there? ISTE members, NECC is indeed a revenue generator for the organization. The profits from it help keep your membership dues low and services high. I personally don't believe pocasting would have a negative impact on revenues for the conference (just the opposite, I am guessing), but if it did, the membership would feel the hurt.

Hopefully this issue will be resolved well in advance of the 2009 NECC conference with guidelines that respect both the rights of the attendees, the blogosphere, and the presenters. More reasoned discussion and less knee-jerk reaction by both bloggers and ISTE would be helpful in creating such guidelines.

Miguel, lighten up.  Cathy, think again. ISTE staff, don't be wimps.

Oh, for the record, I've never turned down a request to be taped. But if I ever show up on YouTube, I might well reconsider... 



Kindle and questions

I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Kindle. Recent posts by Kathy Schrock (1,2), Seth Godin and Lee LeFever along with two upcoming workshops at ALA and NECC about the impact of ubiquitous computing on education finally moved me. (Despite no small controversy over DRM and privacy issues raised by Peter Rock and Jason Griffey among others.) Oh, Amazon dropping the device's price didn't hurt either.

My biggest question right now is just what sort of titles I will purchase for the device. In our house, a paper fiction book usually gets a good workout - often read by both the LWW and me and then passed on to various relatives. Every now and then I clear my bookshelves by donating a few dozen books to the public library for their collection or book sale fundraiser. I suppose I could purchase a second Kindle for my wife (her birthday is coming up but then she seems to have her heart set on a new trash compactor) since multiple readers can be tied to a single account, but that seemsplasticbooks.jpg excessive and expensive.

My thought is to read primarily non-fiction on the device - books on educational technology, social computing and the like that normally only I am interested in. I can see the advantages of being able to search such titles. What I don't get is why some of these titles are MORE expensive for the Kindle than in print. I checked my next planned book purchase, Clay Shirkey's Here Comes Everybody only to find I could get it for $10.88 in paperback, but it costs $15.42 for the Kindle version. Blows my "pay-back" theory to kingdom come.

One of LeFever's comments did resonate and hope he is correct when he wonders about "how Amazon will use it and it's Digital Text Platform to create a micro-payment economy for authors." But then I wonder if he knows this ability is already present using Lulu, where content can be sold or given away both in print and non-proprietary digital forms. At the current time, the number of readers who can open pdf files must be several orders of magnitude greater than Kindle owners.

The success of e-books is looking increasingly dependent on how cost and copyright issues will play out. For many of us accustomed to the right to sell, borrow, lease, share or re-gift print books under the first-sale doctrine, a single use/user "book" doesn't make much economic sense, despite the convenience.

Buying dozens of Kindles for school libraries isn't making much sense to me either. And at least one librarian, K.G. Schneider, predicts, " If the Kindle’s DRM model becomes standard, you can kiss libraries goodbye."

If the Kindle winds up in my Drawer of Unused Toys, I'll at least have the cold comfort that it was neither the dumbest nor most expesive of its kind I've made. And the geek and book lover in me are excited.

Is the Kindle the future?