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EdTech Update





Speech contest


This came as a comment to a blog post from early last summer, Everything I know in 15 minutes:

Hi, Doug-

I don't know if you know anything or not about high school speech, but I do an event called Oratorical Declamation, which is basically a student giving a commencement address or a famous speech by someone else as if they were the author. I have used your speech all year and I can't tell you how many comments I've received on how fantastic and original the speech is! In fact, I've taken first place at three tournaments with it. I hope you don't come after me for using it without consent, but I just thought you should know that your message is being spread, at least throughout Illinois, and that everyone loves it (especially the part about the gods punishing your hubris by giving you Brady)!


As a former high speech contestant and speech coach, this comment was truly a compliment and a very, very nice thing for this young man to write. I have great hope for this generation. Isn't cool that world really is full of kind and thoughtful people - especially young ones?

Although my now iconic stature makes me feel about as old as it is possible to be.


How is the future touching your life today?

Predicting the future is easy. It’s trying to figure what’s going on now that’s hard. - Fritz Dresser

Yesterday's post was a summary of two recent sets of predictions: The Horizon Report, 2009* and a Stephen's Tame the Web blog post, "Ten Trends and Technologies for 2009." I ended the post by stating that I find myself, both personally and professionally, already impacted by many of the technologies and social trends listed in these reports.

So here are some ways the future is already here in MY life...

  1. Mobile computing: Personally, my iPod touch is my constant companion. Not since the laptop, has a communication device so changed how I get information and spend my time. Professionally, the district is experimenting with netbooks for check out and is looking a modifying its policies toward cell phones and other personally owned student technologies. Websites that allow cell phones to be used as response systems might kick the whole policy issue wide open.
  2. "Ubiquity of the cloud": Personally, I've been wireless at home for many years and the lack of wireless is now the exception, not the rule, in hotels and conference sites. I personally use the cloud all the time - delicious, gmail, Flickr, wikis, Moxy file back up, etc. Professionally, the lack of wireless connectivity is now the exception rather than the rule in our school buildings as well. Will this be the year, due to budget cuts, the school starts taking advantage of both the cost savings and convenience of cloud-based tools like GoogleDocs? Is it time to move our e-mail and calendaring system to application service provider in the cloud, like we have already done with our data-mining and webhosting services?
  3. Personalization: Personally, I have an iGoogle portal, customized news RSS feeds, a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Reluctantly. This year I am determined to find usefulness from social networking sites. Professionally, our parents and students both now have "portals" into our student information system that show calendars, newsletters, schedules, grades and assignments.
  4. Changing role of IT: Professionally, The shift of my job as tech director continues to move from gizmos to human use. Like I say, my techs don't even let me touch the computers much anymore.
  5. The Digital Lifestyle: Personally, I increasingly buy digital books and digital music. All my photography is taken, edited and shared digitally. I increasingly use VoIP (Skype). My guess is that this year I will buying digital movies. Professionally, in the new school we are planning nearly everything will be moving over Cat 6 ethernet once inside the building - data, voice, video, bells, PA, security cameras, you name it. And of course, video streaming and electonic databases will supplemented by e-books to a greater extent than ever.

While Stephen's makes passing reference to privacy in his post, I personally see a related area that will get the spotlight this year: 

Awareness of one's digital reputation: I believe we all, students and staff alike, are growing more aware of the digital "foot prints" we are leaving across the Internet - and it is something we need to continue to emphasize in our Interent safety curriculum. From what I read, students are being more cautious about what they post and who they friend. I personally do "reputation monitoring" using RSS feeds of searches in delicious, Twitter and Google of my name, my blog and my school district.

So, How is the future touching your life today?

*Joyce Valenza also posted her reaction to this publication yesterday on The NeverEnding Search. (What do I say about great minds?) Well worth reading.



Two sets of predictions

The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet. -William Gibson

Two sets of predictions about the trends that will impact schools and libraries in the immediate future came to my attention this week.

The first is one my favorite publications, The Horizon Report, published annually by EDUCAUSE. The second is a Tame the Web blog post by respected librarian Michael Stephens, "Ten Trends and Technologies for 2009." I read through both this weekend and was struck by how the reports echo each other. (Great minds think alike.) And to a large degree, the impact some of these technologies are having on many of us already. That "wackiness" factor of some prognosticators is simply missing from both these publications.

I've listed the "big ideas" along with a teaser quote for both reports. But you'll really want to read them both in their entireties. And while the Stephens is writing for public/academic libraries. most of what he says is also relevant to schools and school libraries.

Horizon Report, 2009:

  1. Mobiles "The idea of a single portable device that can make phone calls, take pictures, record audio and video, store data, music, and movies, and interact with the Internet — all of it — has become so interwoven into our lifestyles that it is now surprising to learn that someone does not carry one."
  2. Cloud Computing "cloud computing transforms once-expensive resources like disk storage and processing cycles into a readily available, cheap commodity."
  3. Geo-Everything "Geolocation technology is not new, but it is now commonly available in a growing range of devices like mobile phones, cameras, and other handhelds; at the same time, the software tools we use every day are beginning to include features that make use of geolocative data. ... tweets, indicate nearby friends ... a photo application for the iPhone, lets the viewer upload geotagged photos..."
  4. The Personal Web "...people of all ages are creating customized, personal web-based environments to support their social, professional, and learning activities using whatever tools they prefer."
  5. Semantic Aware Applications "Semantic-aware applications are tools designed to use the meaning, or semantics, of information on the Internet to make connections and provide answers that would otherwise entail a great deal of time and effort."
  6. Smart Objects "Smart objects are the link between the virtual world and the real. A smart object “knows” about itself — where and how it was made, what it is for, who owns it and how they use it, what other objects in the world are like it — and about its environment."


  1. Ubiquity of the Cloud "...could all of my data someday be stored in the cloud, be it at Apple’s, Amazon’s or some new service? Could I easily access my data from any PC, Mac, phone, tablet, etc at my disposal?"
  2. The Changing Role of IT "People skills, negotiation skills and enabling effective communication across all levels of an institution will be very important for these new IT/Librarian professionals. The days of hunching over code in a basement office may be fading."
  3. The Value of the Commons "Collaborative spaces offering access to technology - such as circulating hard drives, digital video cameras, and laptops - may soon be the norm on many college campuses, especially those with forward-thinking librarians. ... The Commons to me is much more than a physical space. It’s a community - a gathering place - a place to share."
  4. The Promises of Micro-Interaction "Library staff could use micro-interaction tools to get things done as well. Easy communication, projects updates and, of course, the excellent examples of libraries using Twitter in time and money saving ways."
  5. The Care and Nurturing of the Tribe "We have come a million miles from the 'using shiny technology of the day' type posts of a while ago to thinking about what it actually means to interact with another human being. These interactions just happen to be electronic."
  6. Triumph of the Portable Device "Banning cell phones (and the converged devices they’ve become) is no longer an option for libraries. That sign on your door with a cell phone and a red circle/line through it simply has got to go. Go take it down. I’ll wait. ... We should be guiding user behavior in our spaces with simply stated codes of conduct instead of focusing on banning technology to control behavior.
  7. The Importance of Personalization "People are personalizing their information experiences and spaces. How many years has Amazon welcomed me back with open arms, and a few suggestions for purchase? ... Affording personalized connections into the cloud might make the library a gateway to user’s data and put library resources in their view. Blocking access — Facebook? MySpace? — negates this benefit and dampens this possibility."
  8. The Impact of Localization (device geo-awareness) "It’s messy, weird, kind of silly, but speaks to the promise of what could come. I might easily find three vegetarian restaurants within a mile of a conference hotel via localized search on my device. I might tap into the wisdom of three other hikers while exploring a national park via services like “Find Twitter users near me.” This is where the privacy discussion becomes so important. We need to understand how much is too much and how much is too little (”No photos in the library! It’s a privacy thing!”).
  9. Evolution of the Digital Lifestyle "Music, movies, books, articles, podcasts, TV shows, etc are all available via various mechanisms online. Have you watched a dhow on Hulu? Have you streamed a Netflix movie to your laptop while waiting for the mail to bring a Netflix DVD? Have you purchased a digital download of a hot new album or song? Have you shared a video with your friends and family? Have you recorded your own song or story and shared it with the world? Maybe you have. I know for sure your library users (or non-users) have certainly done these things.
  10. A Shift Toward Open Thinking "The idea of open thinking is looking past the ways we’ve always done things - the ways we’ve always spent our money - for emerging, lower-cost, sometimes free and very sustainable mechanisms. Open Source Software is a huge part of this but so is the simple idea of open governance and participation.

None of these "predictions" is particularly startling. In fact, I find myself - both personally and professionally - already being impacted by many of the technologies and social trends listed.

In the next Blue Skunk post, I'll list a few of those ways, despite being a reactionary geezer. (No comment, Miguel.)

Are you being impacted by the future, now?