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EdTech Update





A sentimental nod to print


The print edition of Slovenly Peter my grandmother read to my siblings and me that still bears the crayon imprint of my little brother - along side its replacement?

Call me a sentimental slob, but I woke up this morning feeling sorta mournful. My Kindle arrived via UPS yesterday afternoon and I spent some time playing/learning/reading the device last evening. I am planning to take it and NO print books to ALA and NECC. The acid test.

It is eminently, uh, pragmatic.

I've been an advocate for silicon replacing cellulose since 1995. E-books hold tremendous potential for education - helping (and de-stigmatizing) struggling readers, reducing backpack weight, and even lowering textbook costs. Yet now that this practical device is actually here, I have to admit there are some important things I will miss about paper books:

  • How will you start a conversation with the person next to you on an airplane if you don't have the safe opening of "How's that book you're reading?"
  • How will you learn about the people who have invited you over if you can't peruse their bookshelves? (A LibraryThing account or Facebook book list just aren't the same.)
  • How will you impart memories of love and excitement about books in toddlers who are learning to associate reading with physical closeness, bright pictures and personal attention?
  • How likely are children to collect "e-books" that, like in my brother's case above, they make their own?

OK, I am sure when the horseless carriage replaced the horsed carriage, many shed a tear or two over the sweet smell of hay and manure. But the Kindle really does feel like the end of print books - objects that have been near and dear to my heart since I was read the horrible Slovenly Peter on my grandmother's lap.

Is this just sentimentality or will there be real loss as reading moves from cellulose to silicon?

Note to Amazon: Make the click wheel click quieter. It drives my wife nuts! 


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...