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All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





When less is more

My productivity has been at about zero for the last three days. Granted, that's not a steep decline, but it is a decline.

I got my new MacBook Air. The one with the solid state hard drive. And I've been moving files, downloading programs,  tweaking settings, and generally just getting the thing all tricked out before I head to NECC on Friday. What a pain in the ass. (OK, my move to the cloud is taking longer than I had anticipated.)

This must be about the twelfth computer I have personally owned - starting with an Apple IIe back in 1984. The list has included Apples, Macs, PCs (even ones with the C prompt), desktops and laptops. Each getting better and better.

This is first time however that I have gone down in "feature sets." My previous MacBook had a faster processor, larger hard drive, a CD/DVD drive, and lots more ports. It was a dependable workhorse, no question.

What I find notable about the Air is what it does not have - no mechanical hard drive, no firewire, no CD/DVD drive built in, no separate Ethernet port, a little slower processor, and only one lonesome USB port. The reviews I read were not overly kind to this machine because of this.

But personally, I think this is an evolved machine - one that recognizes that wireless, not wired, connectivity is the reality. And it is rugged, very light, and feels faster than the machine with the faster processor. (Maybe it is the flash storage?) I don't remember the the last time I use the CD/DVD drive on my last computer, the firewire port except for the external back up drive that also had USB ports, or an Ethernet cable when not at my desk at work. My computer goes pretty much everywhere with me - throughout the district, home each night and on lots of trips. Dropping those few extra pounds is a real blessing in the way I use a computer.

As I see some "features" going away, I think about how nervous I was about buying computers that lacked a floppy disk drive, a serial port, a SCSI connection and a modem. When is the last time you missed any of those things?

 From the porch, over looking the lake, taking in the Air.


Modeling co-learning and other conference take-aways

At a conference in Pennsylvania this past week, I got the chance to meet ed tech leader Kristin Hokanson of ConnectedClassroom fame. She tweeted my keynote and workshops and helped me out a lot as I bumbled through my Second Life presentation/demo. I e-mailed Kirstin a note of appreciation for the kindness she showed during my visit, joking that I need to be more careful about what I say during my talks knowing (because of Twitter) that people are actually listening. And this was her reply:

I had to chuckle at your comment about being " more careful about what (you) say if (you) know people are listening" ...while I sometimes think that myself, I realize that the message that we are sharing is SO very important we NEED to keep sharing, and tweeting and RE-tweeting and hope that folks DO listen and that we can make a difference in helping kids to become more information literate. I live with those digital natives, I want them to be prepared for their future. I want public school to prepare them for life in the 21st century! AND I think teachers, administrators, and educational leaders who model co-learning is exactly what our kids need!

OK, so how do we clone Kristin - or at least her passion?

One of the biggest delights of doing workshops/presentations about SecondLife and Web2.0 tools is that I always seem to learn new stuff as the presenter. I commented a while ago about the increasing range of skills and knowledge one encounters in Web 2.0 workshops. And I realize that I've come to actually depend on the greater expertise on those attending to make the workshop richer for everyone, just feeling a little guilty about it.

Now I find that I am modeling being a co-learner. I like that.


In PA, I also got to hear Alan November give a keynote. He, along with Jamie McKenzie, was a primary influence on my thinking about educational technology when I was a little director growing up on the prairie. One of the suggestions that he made that I particularly liked was that teachers stop answering questions in class, and instead turn this task over to the students themselves. Talk about everyday practice in information literacy!


On Friday, a number of students and teachers presented on what they had learned as a part of a year long information/technology literacy program called MILI sponsored by MetroNet. One high school girl's comments about how GoogleDocs "organized her life" and made working with her teacher and classmates more effective made me think we need to get rolling with Google Apps for Education in our district. I believe it WILL help kids. End of story.


Here's good question that came up during one of my workshops...

One of the reasons often give for teachers not being more willing to infuse technology into their classrooms is that they are intimidated because the students are more proficient in its use. Yet we have many educators who expect their students to be better at what they teach than they will ever be, including music teachers and atheletic coaches.

Why do some teachers delight in students who lap them in knowledge and ability and others seem to fear it?


Happy Monday. Getting excited to be going to NECC!


Guy gone wild

The LWW is in Ireland and France for two weeks visiting her son and daughter-in-law. It's rare that I have time at home alone, so I am going to go wild. I fully intend to:

  1. Not put the toilet seat down.
  2. Watch TV while I eat.


It's pathetic that's about all I can think of. I've admittedly a weak moral character, but I've found that being bad takes a lot of energy. In fact, I'd guess exhaustion is the leading cause of good behavior among older men.

I have been lusting after that new MacBook Air laptop computer. Ladies, would this fly if your husband with a hung dog look said, "I was just so lonely and bored I bought a new computer... If you forgive me, I promise never to do it again."?