July 18, 2008

Guerrillas in the Mist: Education and where we are headed

Filed under: education,musing,necc,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 3:04 pm

I promise to get off the NECC discussion- apologies to those who are sick of hearing about it.

I have been back from NECC for two weeks, and I am sifting through so many possibilities and ideas. I have wandered down many paths of links and discussions, finding blog posts from some who carried inspiration home with their tired feet and some who left feeling hollow. The consistent message from all is a passion for changing the entity we know as “education.” Everyone seems to sense that we are inside a cloud of change but none of us has the ability to see beyond it.

Analogy of the day (if you read me often, you know I talk in analogies): I live on a lake where the morning light often brings a heavy, inscrutable mist over the water. Even though there is fresh daylight reflecting off each water vapor droplet, we cannot see even as far as the end of the dock. Despite expanding light, we cannot see. Occasionally an intrepid kayaker will venture through the mist on a true voyage of discovery. If he finds another, they talk from deep within the mist, and their voices carry much farther than they realize — yet lack defined location. Under such dense cover, they can sneak up on anyone, anytime: guerrillas, seeking.

As educators create global collaboratives, web 2.0 networks for learning, and blogs about all of it, we are guerrillas in a very heavy mist. We have no idea when we will be able to see beyond the brilliantly reflective vapor droplets:  the many current projects and moments of new learning. Kern Greenwood Henke interviewed NECC participants  (and more) to ask them what will be there when my figurative mist burns off: “what does the future of learning look like?” I question whether any lone kayaker — or even the entire kayaking club with voices reverberating across the water — really knows.

Where will changes in the electronic media and changes in education finally go? I have guesses, but right now I am enjoying the brilliantly misty morning.

July 5, 2008

NECC, Hats, and Invisibility Cloaks

Filed under: about me,necc,necc08,personal learning network — Candace Hackett Shively @ 10:11 am

Apologies to any readers who may not have been at NECC or even know what it is. This post is part of my personal reflection/debrief on the National Educational Computing Conference, my biggest annual opportunity for formal professional development.

I have concerns about the hats we wear — or the choice of invisibility cloaks — for the many forward-thinking educators who come into NECC  with more than one role.

Feeling the Tension

When I arrived at NECC this year, it was with a sense of regret that scheduling had prevented me from attending this year’s EdubloggerCon (EBC), my favorite part of NECC ’07 in Atlanta.  I followed enough of the blogflak about video and gleaned between the lines of ISTE’s policies about recordings, though,  to know that Pearson’s videotaping at EBC was a hot issue.  I also read and commented on pre-conference discussion on the NECC Ning regarding “commercial” postings there. A conversation with friend Jim Gates on NECC day 3 was the third time I felt it: there is a stigma attached to any role or affiliation that makes a NECC attendee or presenter “unpure.”


As a  27 year teacher who went over to the “dark side” two years ago by switching my moonlighting  job to a full time job, I am aware that no modifier I can include in the description of my role running TeachersFirst can erase the stigma; “free,” “ad-free,” “service,” “non-profit,” “noble,” even “saintlike” would be inadequate.  If I choose to don my TeachersFirst hat publicly, I am tainted. Even worse, my ideas and contributions become suspect.

I would maintain that many respected contributors and organizers at EBC, NECC, and the most respected educational technology/ education reform collaborations have additional “hats.” Many individuals moonlight outside of their classrooms as consultants. Others have relationships with publishers, tool developers, or hardware/software companies. I have no problem with that. Teachers need the money, and the good ones have good ideas to share. Many in the “inner circles” at EBC or NECC are aware of the consulting/training  that others do. I would suspect that there are quite a few other “hats” would show if everyone engaged in complete disclosure.

So what to do?

The dilemma: is it better to don an invisibility cloak  (and remain quieter) or wear your hat? Aren’t we, as teachers forever (for that IS what I am– a teacher — no matter who pays me) , just as entitled to learn and grow out of genuine interest in the topics at hand? If NECC is a part of my personal learning network, what is the best way to participate: hat on head or invisibly? Are my ideas less valuable because I changed jobs? Should I refrain from speaking because I come from the dark side? I don’t think so.

I wear my name badge with job title. I tell people what I do when asked. I share ideas that others seem to value. But I must “be careful.”  At what point do my ideas become suspect as an agenda instead of the honest contributions to the conversation they are meant to be? And at what point does the suspicion prevent me from learning as well?

I am frustrated at Pearson for raising the suspicion level of everyone by showing up to “document” EBC. I will admit that I am also suspicious of them, given the fact that they are not participants or teachers, just a commercial company videotaping. They recently launched a “foundation,” and that raises my antennae, too. Will their “foundation” status end up throwing more suspicion on genuine David (to Goliath)-sized non-profits such as my employer in the long run? Is their foundation an intentional invisibility cloak?

So I throw these question out ot the twitting-blogging-Ninging-gadgeting crowd from NECC and beyond:

1. Where and under what circumstances are teachers who wear multiple hats allowed to go for fully-engaged professional growth?

2. How would you prefer to see the hats that these teachers wear?

3. Is there a difference between moonlighting educators and those who retire and take that second career?

What are your thoughts?

July 1, 2008

NECC idea: Game show sessions and the wisdom of crowds

Filed under: necc,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 1:53 pm

This post is from the Bloggers’ Cafe at NECC in San Antonio.

I know this sound facetious, but I am serious. I had two ideas for new types of NECC sessions for 2009, since several BYOL sessions have been “closed” due to fire safety regs. Clearly there is a real desire to participate in every session, whether lecture or BYOL. Live bloggers and multi-taskers outline the perimeter of all seating space, strategically sitting in end seats and on the floor in aisles close to wall outlets or for quick movement to the next popular session.

So here are two possible session formats, both with audience participation: Name a Use Challenge and Teach Me Now

Option 1: Name-a-Use Challenge (actually, I am seriously considering OFFERING this session, so please be ethical and do not steal it without checking with me first).

As they enter, audience members are assigned onto teams for competition (and perhaps prizes from some willing vendor?). Team members need not sit together.

Audience members may also volunteer to serve as one of a panel of 5  judges for the competition/collaboration. The judging team may meet F2F or remain in their seats in relative anonymity. I haven’t decided about that yet.

The session begins with the audience providing their personal suggestions of favorite or interesting web 2.0 tools, one per person. This submission could be done in real time (via web 2.0 tool, of course).  Offline audience members can meet their laptop neighbors or walk to an aisle-sitter to have their choices submitted by proxy. Immediately, points are awarded for for the more obscure or unique offerings. Duplicate offerings gain no score.

Web 2.0 tools are then presented randomly , with the original submitter explaining the tool’s capability in 30 seconds or less.  Judges can award points for particularly powerful descriptions, but penalties will be assessed for providing the “answers” for how to use the tool. (Already the judges are under pressure). Members of the “receiving” team have an opportunity for a 60 second collaboration  (any way they wish) and to “answer” with ideas for “ways to use this tool effectively in support of teaching and learning.” The responding team  garners points for ideas, with extra weight for pedagogically sound, unusual, creative, or other “bonuses,” all determined by the judging panel. All ideas are recorded online for later review and sharing beyond the session.

Teams alternate, responding to as many tool options as time permits.

Comments and discussion, real and virtual, are welcome from all participants. Judges have permission to change the rules at any time, provided they can reach consensus on said changes.

This session has everything: the wisdom of the crowd, practical ideas, collaboration in real time and after, and competition. A little humor won’t hurt,either. And I’d love to be the emcee. It’s no different than working with 100 middle school gifted kids…

Option two: Teach Me Now!

This session format presents new (and not so new) tools with audience participants as guinea pigs. Audience members volunteer, saying they are willing to act as guinea pigs, learning the tool in front of the audience. The actual guinea pigs can be selected randomly from those who offer. The guinea pig’s  (or 2-3 guinea pigs’) screen(s)  is(are)shared with the entire audience. The presenter proceeds to “teach” the tool or technique to the guinea pig(s). Audience members are encouraged to chime in with ideas and or strategies at stop-and-swap points during the session. they may also “follow along,” silently learning the tool from their own laptops.  At any  stop-and-swap  point, a guinea pig may ask to be “swapped” with someone from the audience. 

Audience members who are simply “watching” can comment or send kudos to the teacher and/or guinea pigs at any time during the session for moral support or extension.

I haven’t figured out how to add competition to this format of collaboration. Maybe this one would be better for those who are a bit afraid to try without seeing how easy something is? If they are afraid to be on the “stage,” they can still participate silently.

Just some thoughts…

June 30, 2008

web 2.0- why is it important and further musings for the afternoon at NECC

Filed under: musing,necc,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 5:47 pm

The NECC  session on Steve Hargadon Classroom 2.0: Exploring the Potential of Web 2.0 with backchat at http://www.chatzy.com/610230759294 presented a good philosophical and “historical perspective” on what web 2.0 is and what it means. The panel had some diverse comments and angles (wise crowd or homogeneous group?). I was left a thought to ponder, followed by a couple of random thoughts from fighting with interrupted network connections and riding the bus.

From the session:

If collaboration is the key to wisdom and the cure for cancer, when will funding models catch up with the slippery nature of “ownership” in these collaborative successes? For example, university researchers must guard their results in order to demonstrate their successes when applying for the next round of grants. People who are truly creative have to balance the choice of ownership with the power of collaboration.  It seems that web 2.0 (and a global collaborative model) is, in a way, analogous to the Native American model of non-ownership of land/the earth. The different is that this time the interlopers are declaring that they DON’T own anything.  Creative Commons is there, sure, but what about ownership of the innovations that generate the income to fund the thinktanks, etc. Somehow there must be a way to make money “collaborate,” too. I wonder.


Doesn’t it seem ironic that a group as heterogeneously gung-ho about collaboration and openness as NECC attendees still rushes to get free doo-dads as fast as a six year old in the exhibit hall? There is proof that each of us has a dark side.

Everybody is so busy Twittering that Twitter is down.

OK- time to get some sustenance. Back tomorrow.

Internet Safety Town Hall- part 2

Filed under: necc,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 10:50 am

Amanda Lenhart of PEW with data re internet use and teens 12-17.

66% households have Internet, 22 still on dial-up, 10% not online at home. SOe populations very different.

What are they doing online? (lots of good) 94% research for school, 81% research info on entertainment info

58% have profile online, 77% of those 15-17. Girls bigger users.


  • inappropriate contact (wanted/unwanted)
  • inappropriate content (wanted/unwanted)- hard to determine the def for this b/c it is a community standard

She continues to list out other Pew research results. (not as much connection to normal motivation and behavior of teens, Anastasia’s approach). No assoc between stranger contact and hte content of your profile. Photo and profile, and being female are factors that do correlate to stranger contact.

Interet monitoring software (monitors, NOT filters) is related to lowering dangerous contact. More than half the solicitations were from people they knew/their age. 4% ave received “aggressive” contact (tried to make offline contact). Much is SOUGHT. They know what theyare doing (UNH 2005 youth and law enforcement study).

 more stats…..but you could read these in the study.

We should change the message re profiles to “you may be putting yourself reputationally at risk” instead of at risk for predators.

My battery is dying…so back to paper.

Internet Safety Town Hall at NECC

Filed under: necc,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 10:35 am

I am live-blogging from this NECC session.  All spelling erros, especially fo things mentioned but not spelled out for us are due to the real time nature of this post.

Anastasia Goodstein of Ypulse is profiling “tween” use of digital gadgets and how they use them:  texting teens 13-24 >50 msg /week. She follows what kids do as a full time job and blogs it on Ypulse. Draws parallels between these activities and what kids used to do on the phone: meeting developmental needs of teens.  Mentioned the sidekick multiple times. Most meaningful friends of teens are those with whom they communicate both digitally and F2F are the most meaningful friendships. “Hanging out” is digital- away from parents. Away from being “uberparented.”

MySpace and Facebook:  Kids are moving to FB. They all lie about age. demographic shift. See dana borg re demographic. Higher socio-econ moving to FB. Lower economic staying on MS. The sites have demographics. My Yearbook, Sconex, Tagged.com. Also see the virtual worlds: TeenSecondlife. Hobbo, Gaia.com and others are much simpler to operate than SL. Many are connected to toy companies. Lego is building one. by 2011 57% of teens will be in virtual worlds. Club Penguin and Webkins will grow up into them. They are not all geeks able to design an avatar.

These tools allow teens to express themselves and strong social activism concerns. They get validation from it. They are comfortable being public. Adults worry about their digital trail, but teens don’t see a problem with that.

Re schools: Teens are used to Internet to do homework. There is definite need for info literacy. MTV poll of teens showed that teens said greatest problem with loss of Internet for a week would be not being able to do their homework.(wikipedia)

 Her tips: talk to your teens about where they are going and what they do. Try the sites yourself. Be a guide to help them evaluate sources. safety needs to go beyond predators and inapprop content. Should include ethics and etiquette: talking about fair use, copyright, language vs txt. Make it a pre-req for afterschool computer use time. They need to know how marketers are “after them.” Marketing literacy. Talk about the personna you create online. Create and manage your reputation “brand” yourself and your digital trail.

Find the trailblazers in our field. Use them to get the word out.

Blogging at Necc

Filed under: edtech,necc,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:06 am

For those of you who have never experienced NECC, especially teachers, picture Friday night HS football crowds, each with a laptop, sitting on everything available, including the floor.  The wireless has gone up and down four times in the past 20 minutes as I tried to start this entry. Just too much stimulation for this network! The hall of famous Texans statues here at the convention center in San Antonio is especially entertaining with people checking email amid bronze statues of Sam Houston and Katherine Anne Porter. But the spirit of the “wise crowd” (per keynote last night) is palpable. I need to head to the next session,but just wanted to check in. I am going to talk to some poster session folks.

June 26, 2008

Wildfires and Supermarket Sweep in San Antonio

Filed under: edtech,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 1:20 pm

The lightning has struck in San Antonio, and the sparks are flying. My presentation blog and hundreds of Ning discussions, blog posts, wikis, and web sites are ready to go for the weekend and next week. NECC is here. For those blogging the conference, the Spanning the Gap presentation has its own tag: n08s722. I will set up an RSS feed for any blog posts tagged for this presentation to show in the sidebar of that blog and here, as well.

For the next two weeks or more, the fires will light up the Internet, cell phones, twits, and every gadget known to techdom. Fortunately, there is no risk to human life or property, just wallets and brains.

I will try to blog some sessions during the conference, as well.

 In the meantime, I need to spend some time looking at the conference planner and deciding (or not being able to decide) which sessions are my top choices. I wish there were some way to slow NECC down so I could absorb it better. It reminds me of the old game show, Supermarket Sweep. The contestants run up and down the aisles for a short (too short) period of allotted time, grabbing everything they can of value. Then they run to the check out just in time to beat the clock, hoping they have selected the best (and most valuable) collection of stuff.

I hope I find some lobster in my NECC cart. What is in yours? 

June 5, 2008

Getting Ready for NECC

Filed under: about me,necc08 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 4:35 pm

Some people pack bags or arrange for a kennel. I am fortunate enough to be preparing a presentation. See my musings about this process on the new (today) presentation blog. Please wish me luck!