The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

NECC Awards

I just got back from Atlanta yesterday and here are my perceptions of NECC, in sort of an award format.

Best Event:
EdubloggerCon, held on Saturday before NECC. Hands down. Big. Huge. Hit. If you can go next year, don’t miss it. Or, go to Hitchhikr or go to Technorati and enter the tag for the event (edublogger07) to locate the posts.

Best Presentation I saw: Mitch Resnick, MIT, Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society (tag: n07s737)

Next Best Presentation: Jeff Utecht, informal presentations at the Blogger Café on TwitterCamp. Simply merging talent, tools and opportunity to do something good.

Best Presentation Style: Mitch Resnick again, who gets it. Hey look, visuals! No bullet points. Just telling the story…

Best Blog Post (Humorous category): John Pedersons’ description of the use of Twitter and other associated tools to coordinate a trip to the Braves/Tiger’s game.

This was everywhere: Anything 2.0

When will this stop? Presenters reading bullet point slides to me in a presentation.

This will be everywhere in San Antonio: Second Life

Emergence of new tool:
for many it was Twitter. For me, Twitter and Skype.

Most interesting new conference technique with potential: the use of Skype to connect individuals within a presentation together in a Skype chat to discuss the presenter(s) ideas as they are being said real-time, with the potential for other individuals in another session to follow along and add their own thoughts. It’s about developing a small learning network within a presentation…and the transcripts of the chat can be posted to a blog for others to see.

Least surprising: the big time interest in Second Life. Very similar to the interest in podcasting several years ago. It will be interesting to see where it goes, and you have to admire the passion of those who believe deeply that this will change how learning occurs.

Biggest absence for me: Some of the Canadian bloggers.

Most ironic: packed SRO room at Tony Vincent’s ipod presentation-so much interest in the educational application of a tool that is typically banned in most schools. (tag n07s611)

Worst Idea: Blogger in a Bag. :)

Disappointing for me, personally: digital storytelling presentations “de-evolving” into presentations focusing on the tools, such as “Learning Photostory” as opposed to focusing on the evolution of the technique as a methodology for developing a student's global voice.

Best advancement from previous conferences: Hands down winner, the Blogger Café

Best ideas: 1) EdubloggerCon 2) Blogger Café 3) the application of individual tags for each presentation-thank you Steve Hargadon, 4) the use of Skype within presentations.

Best new tool for conferences: the application of Twitter and Skype to presence and for connecting ideas and people.

Best social event: Airport delays and cancellations forcing spontaneous Blogger Cafés at the Atlanta airport.

Best Atlanta restaurant: Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. With a name like that, it has to be good and it was. Didn’t get to go to the Varsity….

Best New Product: I didn’t see one, although I didn’t spend much time on the exhibit hall floor.

I'm always amazed by: the power of like-minded people to inspire each other (same as last year)

Person who inspires me: Steve Hargadon, who works tirelessly, is smart, and serves the greater good.

I finally got to meet: Brian Grenier, Vinny Vrotney, Cheryl Oakes, Chris Sessums, Chris Craft, Tom Banaszewski, Brian Crosby, Julie Lindsey, Darren Draper, Kevin Honeycutt, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Karl Fisch, plus many more. (Sorry for not linking...)

Best quote: Tie:

What is the worst consequence of your best idea? (Chris Lehmann)

What happens in schools stays in schools (from David Warlick’s EdubloggerCon session)

And just to show how this all works (Best Quote, Second Place):

Darren Draper contributes a quote into a Skype chat from Kevin Honeycutt during Will Richardson’s spotlight session, which is harvested and posted by Jeff Utecht and read by me, and reposted here:

[7:32:59 AM] Darren Draper says: Kevin Honeycutt said that this is the first conference he’s been to (myself included) where he met a lot of people “who’s brains he had known” before he knew their faces.

See you in San Antonio!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blogger in a Bag

Best Buy has been giving out huge bags on the exhibit hall floor, so you can count on the creative minds of edubloggers to put them to good use. From the twisted mind of John Pederson comes Blogger in a Bag. Enjoy.

Also, from John, read about our "use of technology" to "coordinate" our trip to the Braves-Tigers game.

tags necc necc07 bagged johnpederson

One Big Conflict

I saw several good presentations today, with Mitch Resnick from MIT giving the most interesting presentation. Here is my schedule for tomorrow, and I've got some choices to make. Note the yellow triangles...

SMART Boarding in the Classroom 101: Become a SMART Teacher [Session]
Location: GWCC B211
School 2.0: Technology and the Future of School [Session]
Location: GWCC Murphy 2/3
! Research: Redesign Assignments with Social Bookmarking [Session]
Location: GWCC B305
New Tools, New Schools: Starting the Conversation about Web 2.0 [Session]
Location: GWCC B207
Doing 1-to-1 Right! [Session]
Location: GWCC B212
Podcasting for Professional Development: Innovative Strategies for Syndicated Success [Session]
Location: GWCC B208
Reinventing Education for the 21st-Century (Designing School 2.0): [Session]
Location: GWCC B402
Contemporary Literacy in the New Information Landscape [Session]
Location: GWCC Murphy 2/3
Papert Matters: Thinking About Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas [Session]
Location: GWCC Murphy 4
Constructivist Teaching with Technology: Learning with Laptops [Session]
Location: GWCC B208
Learning Environments For DKs: Education in the New Digital Landscape [Session]
Location: GWCC Murphy 1

I might just sit in the edublogger cafe tomorrow as some of the conversations there and other places have been outstanding. I've had a chance to reconnect with Will Richardson, Steve Hargadon, Jeff Utecht, David Warlick, Mark Wagner, Hall Davidson, Guy Ballard, Joe Brennan and Terry Freedman. I've also had a chance to meet many others, including Chris Craft, Vinnie Vrotney, Brian Crosby, Chris Sessums, Doug Johnson (great presenter by the way), Anne Davis, Cheryl Oakes and Janice Sterns.

The most interesting connection for me has been Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, who I connected with instantly, and look forward to working with immensly.

tags: necc necc07 necc2007

And We're Off...

I'm getting ready for my first session at NECC. It should be a good day as I'll be seeing Larry Anderson, Mitch Resnick from MIT, Carl Heine from the Illinois Math and Science Academy and finishing the day with my favorite librarian, Doug Johnson. Here is my lineup....

8:30-9:30am Learning for Leaders 2.0: Development of Self and Team

11:00am-12:00pm Considering 1-to-1: Here's a Toolkit to Get Started

12:30-1:30pm Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society

2:00-3:00pm Five Obstacles to Information Fluency (and How to Remove Them)

3:30-4:30pm Classrooms and Libraries for the Net Generation

As always, the presentations are only the starting point at NECC-the conversations with the people that you meet are what deepens the experience.

tags: necc necc07 necc2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What I learned in Amarillo-Digital Storytelling

One of the benefits of conducting workshops is that you can learn as much as the participants. During my four-day set of workshops, here is what I learned from the participants:

I didn’t know that the plural form of y’all is all y’all. I lived in Georgia for five years and don’t remember ever hearing that. I tried saying it and they had a pretty good laugh.,.then I made them say hey youse guyz...

Seriously, with regards to digital storytelling:

I was reminded of the power of story circle, which I first encountered at The Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California. Basically, you read your narrative to others and they comment about your story, and in the process, help you find the story within the story. I had several participants that had trouble finding their story and I simply asked them to tell me a story rather than write it. They were able to communicate it, they saw the story and were able to continue.

I provide them with a series of story prompts that encourage the development of a personal story. I need to do a better job with personal, as some stories were probably too personal. The participants suggested telling a story that they were passionate about.

I ask participants to develop a written narrative, and from that, we extract a script. The script will become the voice of the digital story and it represents the essence of the story. Basically, we strip down the narrative and then build it back with the inclusion of the multimedia elements to build two tracks of meaning, one represented by the voice and the other by the visuals/song. I had them print their story, open a new Word document, and then extract/rewrite/reframe 8-10 sentences that became their script, and it worked well. Many times their script became much different than their narrative, much more elegant and passionate as a result of having a limited amount of written real estate.

We used Flickr Storm to locate images and it performed flawlessly. After they found their images, I had them re-display them with the square setting in the photo set (the Web page that displays after you download the tray). We printed this, and used it to create the Attribution page at the end of their story (I ask them to use images from the attribution pool of Flickr) which was very helpful. Also, consider having them build in the attribution information in the file name of the image when they download it from Flickr or FlickrStorm. If you are not familiar with FlickrStorm, check out the tutorials at TeacherTube.

During the storyboarding process, I ask them to visualize their story so that their image searching is streamlined. The participants also suggested that this process should include developing a keyword list (actually tags) for searching in Flickr or FlickrStorm.

Overall, a productive four days for all...thanks to Heather Voran of ESC 16 for having me.

tags: digitalstorytelling flickrstorm esc16

Saturday, June 23, 2007

EdubloggerCon Atlanta

It's been a long several days after finishing a digital storytelling workshop in Amarillo, flying back to Chicago and turning around and heading to Atlanta for EdubloggerCon and NECC in Atlanta.

I had an enjoyable evening last night having dinner with David Warlick and talking technology and education. I know most of you read David's blog, and as good as that is, he's even better in person. He always helps me clarify my thinking and his insights always challenge me to think deeper about what I believe. Such is the power of the relationships that can build when people are engaged in blogging.

So today should probably be several things. Amazing. Intimidating. Exilarating. I wonder what I'll know at the end of the day that I don't know now. I wonder who will impress me the most-who will that person be?

I'll be blogging about the event so follow along if you'd like. What an opportunity...

tags: NECC07 NECC2007 EdubloggerCon davidwarlick davidjakes

Sunday, June 17, 2007

DST Texas Round 2

I'm back in Amarillo, Texas at ESC 16 doing another round of digital storytelling. I've got two days with high school English teachers, and then I finish with 2 days with middle school teachers, fly back to Chicago, and then get on a plane to NECC. I just finished a Web 2.0 workshop with a group of outstanding teachers from District U-46 in Elgin, Illinois. This was my first time doing an extended Web 2.0 workshop (over a period of 4 days-they did the last day on their own) and it was extremely interesting to watch the transformation that took place in the participants, as they gradually realized the potential that was before them, both for their own personal learning, and for how they approach their craft with their students.

The star of the workshop? The network. Hands down.

The participants were amazed at the power of connecting with others, what that can mean, and how they can contribute as well to the conversation.