The Podcast: A Project of Projects


Tonight’s short offering is a thought or two about an idea I had today.  Aggregating content is nothing new – but makes sense when you need a "new" project.  We could all use a few more connections to the good work we’re up to.  Would love to hear your thoughts, or anything you’re up to in this vein.  Enjoy.


I Know It’s Not New . . .

    The conversation(s), I mean.  You know, about how teachers need to be engaged, too, in order for their passion to come through.  Gardner Campbell posted this quote by Jerome Bruner that was a good reminder of the fact that, while the tools and the opportunities to connect and talk are new, not so many of the ideas about school and learning and teaching that some folks, myself included, are (re)discovering:

2. Jerome Bruner, from the Preface to the 1977 revised edition of The Process of Education:

Let me turn finally to the last of the things that have
kept me brooding about this book–the production of a curriculum.
Whoever has undertaken such an enterprise will probably have learned
many things. But with luck, he will also have learned one big thing. A
curriculum is more for teachers than it is for pupils. If it cannot
change, move, perturb, inform teachers, it will have no effect on those
whom they teach. It must be first and foremost a curriculum for
teachers. If it has any effect on pupils, it will have it by virtue of
having had an effect on teachers. The doctrine that a well-wrought
curriculum is a way of “teacher-proofing” a body of knowledge in order
to get it to the student uncontaminated is nonsense.

Amen.  A double amen to the conclusion of his post (you should really read the rest):

I yearn for that effective surprise and for the cognitive economy of
powerful symbols, for the structures and the illuminating honesty, the theme parks and the sandboxes, to make of courses of study episodes of buildable wonder.

Now, he’s a university professor talking about university courses.  But I want my daughters’ kindergartens to be "episodes of buildable wonder."  Don’t you?


The Podcast: I XOXO my XO

    Today’s podcast is a semi-rambling review of the XO.  I also manage to mention Learning 2.0 (have you registered yet? We’d love to have you.) and a couple other little things.  Enjoy and let me know – what are you doing with your XO?

Links I mentioned

The OLPC Wiki
Learning 2.0

I didn’t mention this really .  But I should have.


Hey Network, Can You Lend a Hand?

   One of the teachers taking our K12Online Conference course writes (in a forum that’s private – so no linktribution):

There are so many conference sessions to choose from.  Some conferences have catchy titles, but don’t grab me when I click on it.

Will you give me a few recommendations?  I teach high school social studies (including psychology.)  I am interested in Moodles and blogs and any way to combine interesting social studies sites into one place for my students to explore.  My goal for the end of the course is to have created something that will serve this purpose.

What sessions or directions would you suggest for her?  Any projects outside of K12 Online that she should be considering?  I’ll share all of your suggestions with her – and also use this post to model the power of the network.  Thanks in advance.


Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation

You are invited to attend the Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation Conference.

What is Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation?
Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation
is a one day conference/meetup for teachers, administrators, students,
school board members, parents and anyone who is interested in
education. It will be held on Saturday, February 23rd, 2008, from 9:00
am until 3:00 pm at Arapahoe High School
in Centennial, Colorado, USA. We assume most folks will be from
Colorado, but everyone is welcome to attend, and we are working on some
ideas for virtual participation.

Education is conversation.

Conversation creates change.

future of education does not exist in the isolated world of theory and
abstract conference sessions. Instead, it exists in conversations. It
exists in creating a robust learning network that is ever-expanding and
just-in-time. Learning 2.0 is not the beginning of this conversation.
It is merely a stopping point, a time to talk about the visible
difference that we all seek.

We read. We reflect. We write. We share. We learn. Come join us for a day of conversation about learning and technology.

You can learn much more about the conference on the wiki, including information about registering. Here are some highlights:

Tentative Schedule
still working on the details so this will be updated before the
conference. Also, this may expand if we have more folks register than
we are anticipating. (To quote Bud Hunt, "This conference stuff is hard!")

You must register
so that we know how many folks to expect and so that we can have enough
lunches available. (Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?)

baby. And lunch is included, thanks to the generous support of
Littleton Public Schools, St. Vrain Valley Public Schools, and Arapahoe
High School.

BYOL (that would be
Bring Your Own Laptop) – we’ll have wireless access to the Internet
(filtered) – we may test our capacity to handle density of machines,
but hopefully things will go swimmingly. If not, we have wired machines
in various places you can access.

Questions for Students
We’re having a student panel discussion during lunch. Here’s your chance to submit some questions for them to consider.

Invite Others
strongly encourage you to invite other folks from your school,
district, neighborhood, or learning network to attend as well. It would
be great if everyone could bring at least one person with them that is
perhaps new to this conversation.

Feel free to leave a comment on this post or on the FAQ page on the wiki.

Oh, also feel free to add this image to your blog, or download and print the flyer.



A Blast from Someone Else’s Past

    A little while back, Dean mentioned a tweet I made that got him thinking.  I’m still thinking – about what’s already out there and what we can learn from it, instead of racing forward to the next new thing in a hurry.  I feel myself skating from content to content and application to application – without enough time to process, to understand.  To learn.  Frustrated with myself, I’m finding myself deep in the archives of bloggers that I trust and respect at the moment, looking for  .  .  .  well, I’m not sure what, but I think it’s important.  I’ve much more to say about that – but in the meantime, here’s a blast from someone else’s past.  I found this line delicious:

I’ve got weblog fever in a bad way, and I know JUST enough about
making them work to make them dangerously intriguing.

The author?  Will Richardson.  August 2002


The Death of Blogging is Greatly Exaggerated

    I don’t think for a moment that blogging is going away.  In fact, I’m surprised by how quickly some folks seem to embrace that.  (I wonder if it’s because blogging is hard.  I’d like to give up plenty of hard things – but I won’t because they’re good for me.)    Ryan Bretag writes that, unless "blogs evolve" then they’ll drift away.  I don’t agree with him.  In fact, in the spirit of constructive debate, and because I’ve got lots swirling around in my head at the moment, I’m happy to provide the constructive criticism that Ryan was seeking in his post

    In his piece, Ryan argues, on one front, that blogging is dying because we as a blogging community were never able to all agree on goals and objectives:

There are times when I ponder what the goal is for the edublogger
community. Obviously, there will be those that immediately move to the
power of blogging is that it is about the individual; it is about
whatever that person wants it to be about. While this is true, I would
hope the end goal for edubloggers is improving education and that the
goal of individual blogs or community blogs will focus on how they are
helping to achieve this larger community goal.   

    There are multiple problems here.  The same assumptions that inform Ryan’s argument above are present in many of the important and interesting conversations taking place within my personal learning network now and in the past.  Mostly, the assumption that’s troubling me so much is that there’s one group (community – whatever) out there that exists for educational conversation via electronic media, and that we should all try to engage and involve everyone in that one (fallacious) group so that we’re all friends and reading and commenting each other.  And that we’ll all agree on where that group should go, when they should meet, and what we’ll all do when we get there.  Or that we ever agreed in the first place.

    Ain’t going to happen.  Not now, not ever.  Never did happen, in fact.  We all construct our blogrolls, our Twitter friends, or our other social networking relationships for our benefit and to meet our own unique needs.  That leads some folks to add everyone as a friend.  Others, no one.  And whichever way you want to go is fine for you – but please don’t require that I or anyone else goes with your system to meet our own needs. 

    However folks decide whom to add as a friend, a trusted source, or whatever, dictates to some degree which bits of the "conversation(s)" one receives.  (And maybe it’s not even a "conversation" in the sense of the word that we’re all most familiar with.  Bakhtin’s a good guy to get cozy with to follow this conversational, or dialogic, view of blogging.  If there is such a thing.  Yet.  I’m still wrapping my head around this stuff – have been for a while.)  So context itself gets funky in a network situation, leading to instances where, in my friend group, something would be totally okay, flattering, in fact, and in another, the same act would be a serious social violation.  And different readers, responding to different network contexts (because every one of our networks is unique), will react differently to the "same" information.   Add in the fact that a piece of my network exists inside of a piece of yours,  or vice versa, or used to, or soon will, and things get messy pretty quickly. 

    Despite the fact that this makes for some seriously complex audience(s) analysis every time one puts fingers to keyboard (or at least, I hope that it does for you – sure does for me), I hope it’s pretty clear that there is no such thing as "one" edublogosphere.  I used to think that perhaps there was – probably before I started blogging in 2005 – but there’re too many of  "us" and so it becomes more than impossible to keep track of it all.  That’s a good thing, once we recognize the reality.

    It’s actually dangerous to believe that we can stay on top of all of the information.  Some do better than others, of course, but I don’t know that there’s any one person that’s got all of the necessary information for world domination at their fingertips.  (Sorry, Steve. – And that’s a reference to an inside joke that you’d only understand if you’d been reading Steve Dembo’s Twitter stream for the last several months.) One stance I’d urge folks to consider, if they haven’t already, is that we can and should accept that there’s plenty we’re going to miss, lots of it quite good, but that we’re doing no one a service by trying to read everything or make declarations about the "proper social norms" of the "edublogosphere."  Since there’s not "one" and we’re all a little bit different, then lots of the "we musts" only make sense in particular contexts. 

    And there’re plenty of contexts to go around. 

    Other people, smarter people than myself, have attempted to explain this before.  Stephen Downes, for one, continues to be helpful to my understanding of just how wicked complex such a simple act, that of blogging, is.

    But I certainly don’t get it.  At all.  I’m still fumbling along, as best as I can – and that’s a good thing.

    This will sound horribly selfish, and I’m overstating it just a bit for emphasis, so I hope it’s taken with the grain of salt that it deserves – but I’m not writing or reading or thinking for the benefit of all mankind, no matter how selflessly I say otherwise.  I’m doing it for me, for my personal learning and attempt at understanding.  Now, there’s a certain benefit for others if I’m able to better teach, to better serve my students, or the grown ups with whom I work.  But they are not the primary beneficiaries of my labors. 
    I am.   
    Like I said – that sounds selfish, and there’s certainly a large piece of me who works in this space because I believe in the value of sharing and collaboration.  Heck, I’m a teacher because I believe that education helps to make a difference in peoples’ lives.  The paradox of  "the edublogosphere" is that sometimes, the best thing I can do to build community/group/network capacity  is to serve me, myself and I and trust that such self-service will be of use to others.  I’ve seen time and time again that it can be. 
     (I’ve also seen that Ryan’s probably right about folks’ desire to be in agreement with people rather than in conflict about ideas, but that’s another blog post.) 



Making a Fool

I can think of many more foolish reasons to make a fool of one’s self than this:

I have made a fool of myself before and will no doubt do so again. I am happy to make a fool of myself, if it will advance our knowledge and understanding.

— Stephen Downes, via his blog.  Read the post these great lines come from – and follow the other links.  I’m learning a great deal from this conversation, as I usually do from Stephen.