MLTI Shadow Conference

The MLTI Student Conference is in its seventh year. Amazing. It is high time that we did more to engage Maine’s teacher educators in the conference. That is why this year the conference planning committee has started the 1st annual MLTI Shadow Conference.

The purpose of this Shadow Conference is to allow a critical mass of Maine’s teacher educators to see, hear, and feel the energy and reality of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Through this experience Maine’s teacher educators will be able on reflect on how their programs can most effectively prepare Maine’s future classroom teachers and administrators for digital learning environments.

If you are a Maine teacher educator and work with pre-service or in-service teachers, I implore you to take full advantage of this once a year opportunity.

More information and registration here.

OpenSim-OpenLearning at K12Online 2009

Here is the accompanying blog post for my presentation, OpenSim-OpenLearning at the 2009 K12 Online Conference. It was a pleasure to be a part of such an awesome conference. Let me know if you have any questions by posting here or at

Here are a few resources to get you started. This surely isn’t a complete list. It should get you started though. Please comment. I would love to hear what you have to say about OpenSim. Stay tuned to this blog (or some of the resources below) for more.

Books to prime the pumps

More about generation V

Games mentioned in the presentation

Hardware mentioned in the presentation

Movies in the presentation

Moore’s Law Bits

Virtual worlds mentioned in the presentation

Relevant OpenSimulator Links

Places to go online

  • OpenSim Worlds – Rich White has created this site for people to share worlds they build with others. This is the peice I think is very important for use in learning.
  • IndieMetaverse – A new ning network for people to discuss and share using virtual worlds.
  • RezEd – RezEd (BETA) is an online hub providing practitioners using virtual worlds with access to the highest quality resources and research in the field to establish a strong network of those using virtual worlds for learning.

Where to professionally host virtual worlds

  • ReactionGrid – My recommendation for hosting when it comes to OpenSim. Great people and progressive open technologies. They have a great focus on education.
  • SimHost – Another great option for having someone do the dirty work for you.

Clients to connect to OpenSim (or Second Life)

Other resources in the presentation

A few people to pay attention to

  • Rich White (Twitter) – Of Greenbush Labs fame, a true virtual world pioneer. Check out his amazing CSI build in ReactionGrid.
  • Vikki Davis aka CoolCatTeacher (Twitter) – Powerhouse teacher from Camilla, Georgia doing great things with kids in virtual worlds.
  • Jani Pirkola (Twitter) – Blogs at Maxping which reports on open source virtual worlds, 3d web, and immersive internet.
  • Chris Hart (Twitter) – CTO for ReactionGrid.
  • Kyle G (Twitter) – CEO of ReactionGrid
  • Justin Clark-Casey (Twitter) – OpenSim core developer and independent OpenSim consultant.
  • Trevor Meister (Twitter) – Former K-12 Educator turned social media/network and Virt. Wrld Explorer. SL/Wonderland/Croquet, mostly exploring Immersive Educ. in Opensim on Reactiongrid.

My version of the “final thoughts on NECC 09″ post

It has been a week+ since NECC09 wrapped up and I am finally getting settled back in at the college. I have been playing catch up with work responsibilities but have also had some time to digest the mind expanding behemoth that is NECC. Actually, I don’t think I will be able to finish digesting everything. While officially only three days, there seems there is a learning halo effect around the conference that persists. I still have the #necc09 twitter hash tag open in Tweetdeck and continue to pull resources and links on a daily basis. This is a great thing.

For most of the sessions I went to, I took notes. I am not usually a detailed note taker, but I this time I found it a great way to get back into the mind set of a particular session. As some of you saw, I shared them in raw form. I was surprised when some of them got a few hits on Twitter and other places. I even got a comment from Kathy Schrock herself. This only helped further my thought process on the sessions. Just great. If you missed them, here are my posts with notes. Some are updated with my thoughts, some aren’t. I had wanted to get to them earlier, but NECC was just too busy to keep up. I am still slowly revisiting them and adding things here and there.

I also attended a few other sessions that I just didn’t have batteries to note take with. Oh well, such is the state of our battery technology.

Anyways, on to what I learned at NECC09 in no certain order.

A full experience requires a WiFi access.

The wifi network was down on the bus. The wifi network was down at the conference. The wifi network was down at the Hotel. It was terrible.

I have talked to many a non-connected people about this and their general thought is. “You should know how to opperate without the crutch of the Internet.” What baloney!

Even though I feel for the people at the conference center tasked with providing access to 18,000 people, it should have been working. They did know how many techy-educators were coming. I and my fellow conference goers lost the ability to tweet, blog, stream, etc. our thoughts in real-time. I can operate just fine when not connected, however I felt like I was missing out on half of the experience without access at the conference. Part of the learning process is producing, participating, and sharing with others.

The iPod Touch/iPhone is going to be huge.

Duh, it already is. Yeah, I know. Just wait. There were a lot of sessions on how the device can be integrated in the classroom in very different ways. It was a bit of a hot topic this year.

I don’t have an iPhone. I am currently a BlackBerry user. I am not against the iPhone, I have just had a hard time justifying the price of the AT&T plan. I do have an iPod touch though. Up until NECC I have used it only sparingly. I decided that I was going to put it through its paces while I was in DC and see how it would work as my primary device (minus the phone of course).

I already liked my iPod. The web experience is hands down the best on any mobile device I have tried to date. However, I have now drank the kool-aid and am entering the iPod zeaoltry zone. It isn’t that I learned a lot of new things about the device. The biggest eye opener was how my connected experience was augmented by the device. While I can twitter, email, and blog on my BlackBerry, the interface is not as reactive or responsive as the iPod. The ease of use is the killer feature for me.

After seeing Malcolm Gladwell’s opening keynote I thought I would pick up his book, Outliers. Instead of getting a physical paper copy I thought I would grab the Amazon Kindle App from the App Store and download the electronic copy. While I am saving my experience reading the book on the iPod for a future blog post, know that it works great.

MLTI is truly a shining example.

After attending a few 1:1 sessions at NECC, I can truly say without hesitation that Maine is light years ahead of most other places in regards to implementing a state-wide 1:1 program. The discussions a lot of people are having around their programs seem to have happened in Maine in 2001. A lot of people seem to be touting “it isn’t about the technology” then proceed to explain the technical aspects of their program. From the beginning MLTI has been about the learning process. Not only in words but in action. It gives me great pride to be involved with such a future forward program.

Poll Everywhere is freakin’ awesome.

I have to admit being a tad embarrassed that I didn’t know about It allows you to poll an audience in real-time using Twitter, SMS, or the Web. Very much like a student response system. It is very easy to use and seems to work great. It is even free for up to 30 responses. I just can’t believe I didn’t know about it. :)

It’s the system not the teacher.

I have been saying this as of late in conversations about improving education. NECC has showed many a great path to meaningful technology integration. What blocks many of these paths? The system. The way schools are currently set up/work/exist prevent much of these great learning opportunities from being implemented. Even worse, the system is so engrained into our culture that we often don’t think there is any other way to learn. This is the topic of another post.

My point: the problem isn’t with teachers. The teachers I work with everyday are genuinely interested in improving learning. All too often these teachers get excited about a new technology they could use in their classroom only to be shot down by some artificial block put in place by the system. The experience of NECC reminded me why I do what I do. The point of it all is to improve learning no matter what the system my be.

Maine has some of the best and most passionate learning change agents in the world.

On the 12 hour bus ride with 50 or so technology folks was a blast. We broke the wifi in a matter of minutes. I lost horribly in iPhone poker (which we had to create our own private ACTEM Poker network for). We watched geek movies, including the wonderfully inaccurate Hackers. Most importantly we had a chance to chat and mingle. We are often only connected through the loose ties that Twitter and the ACTEMlist provide. It was great to see and meet new people all on a similar page. It didn’t stop on the bus either. We also had trips to lunches, dinners, and a RedSox game. All great places to talk with the people that are making Maine a leader in 21st century learning through technology. These interactions always leave me proud to live and work in the state of Maine.

Learning Never Stops

Okay, so I didn’t learn this one at NECC. You got me. I include it only to illustrate how easy it is to learn in the 21st century. NECC exemplifies the future of professional development. Going to the conference is only part of the experience. For example, let’s take a look at a few of the official ISTE web presences for NECC.

  • ISTE Connects – The collection of blogs and news with links to other great NECC resources.
  • ISTE Vision – For video on-demand session.
  • NECC Ning – The Ning for NECC.
  • ISTE Island – The virtual island for ISTE which is a big part of NECC.

That does even count the other places to follow NECC like Twitter, Facebook, delicious, or diigo. The NECC experience shows that learning isn’t just about filling your head with facts. It is about engaging in discussion, creating knowledge, and finding your interests.

I had a great time at NECC09. See you all next year at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver for ISTE2010.

Raw notes: Tuesday Morning Debate: Bricks and Mortar schools are detrimental to the future of education.

Note on the video: The debate actually starts around the 53 minutes mark. Also, with the video, my notes are pretty much not needed. However, I blog for my own learning as well, so it helps me makes sense of things after the fact.

This session was moderated by NPR All Things Considered journalist Robert Siegal. It took the form of a formal Oxford-style debate. Here are my raw notes, uncorrected and without thoughts.

“Bricks and mortar schools are detrimental to the future of education”

Audience poll before debate
for 37
against 63

mike horn up for first – for
schools modeled after factories. don’t look that different
“learning by definition takes place in a physical place” how we define a school
brick boundaries restricts learning experiences we might other wise provide
people learn the same way, have the same goals, etc. argues agaist
online learning holds the potential to pull from many different learning oppotunities.
research show online learning can work. hybrid and online learning shows great success
limit socialization to limited community – local monopoly
-distance not obstacle anymore
-communities not defined by distance anymore
-easy to learn from other places, not expensive anymore
-must have the ability to interact with others in a global audience
most Americans won’t work in a factory, why school that way
learning happens everywhere
world has changed, schools have not.

brad jupp
us dept of ed – senior advisor – against
-teaching machine – gizmo that made a light go on.
-school are necessary to get together to learn
-helps community grow
-toss things away before we are done with them
-schools are the vessels of the wishes of our democracy.
-hold together our community
-hold the old men like me that play basketball in the gym
-place of access or Internet
-center of community
-education is our generations greatest civil rights issue
-cannot leave the house of learning

Gary Stager – pepperdine university  for
-problem lies with structure of school setup
-nclb = mid evil
-we are robbing kids of great learning experiences
-really going jugular
-need to make student focused learning experiences
-give kids some learning responsibility and that can change the relationship of student/teachers
-whiteboards encourage teacher in front of the room
-stop using “gadgets to sdo the same old things

Cheryl Lemke – against
-ceo metiry group
-not here to support the status quo
-here to support learning for all students
-social capital – reconnect student with local communities as well are global communities
-note one or the other. it is a conmbination that we need to provide our students
-need to redefine school to fit in today’s school
-students are not as self directed as they need to be
-nedd to build the ability to do this. teacher need to change for this
-students need to be connected to school. achievement go up  research shows this
-distance learning doesn’t have this ability
-research suggest hybrid models work best
-need the briding to global audiences and environmnets and opportunities
-face to face is needed as well
-build capacity for those global connections in school
-need to be connected at home
-need bricks and mortar plus online

marshall thompson – walt whitman high school MD -
-going beyond bricks and mortar
-argument against the local place – we are not limited o having these learning experiences in a physical location.
-why does the learning have to happen in a physical space
-no longer limited
-can live in an international connected place
-why do I only have to learn with people at the local level
-education shouldn’t be limited to my local community
-need a global perspective
-need to have a basis for community argument
-look through bricks and mortar lens
-b and m doesn’t facilitate that
-don’t want to only learn for 8 hours a day
why does learning have to happen only in shcool

erik bakke – west Springfield high school – Springfield VA – against
-schools are crappy – feels an excitement to come in because of an excitement with learning other people
-we see classrooms are adapting to meets needs of different students
-have classrooms for students of different needs
-coming together in these classrooms create strong connections to local communities
-all student have one need in common – the need to work as a team – only through local group do we learn this skill
-through dedication of teacher that students gain love of learning and subjects
-take these into the work force
-it is through schools that you learn passions in life
-teachers inspire him to love life and learning
-my thought, do you need that in a b and m building?

gary stager up again – summation
-students don’t learn the same way
-not b and m support learning with diverse group of students
-scares the hell out of him that students don’t have ties to others out side of their small groups – age and of other diverse groups
-problem lies within the bankruptcy of our imagination

cheryl lemke up again – summation
-we need online learning
-doesn’t have to be at the expense of a location
-don’t want fathers schools
-need to reinvent the school
-if not school we will lose our local communities
-listen carefully to Obama about a speech at notre dame
-there is common ground no matter what side you are on
-time to open classroom doors. technology can augment
-need that personal connection locally and globally

audience questions
-dave wells – pre k principal VT
-q to horn – we have a teacher. how do we support teachers as facilitator, whereever teaching akes place?
-a – that is the role of PD
-we send teachers to PD that are lecture based
-need to be more “just in time”
-can’t be top down model

-question from isteconnects
-q 2 jupp – what will the end of b and m mean for the socialization of students?
-a – if we were to imagine schools away would have to imagine a social space to engage in social learning that schools construct
-current social situations aren’t as good, but need to change that, can’t do it without b and m buildings
-flase dilema to think it is one against the other side
-hybrid is the way to go

-question from audience
-jm from PA – for jupp
-b and m carry burden of the fear of lawsuit whether real or imagined. can b and m break away from this or will the weight crush them
-jupp paused. Laughter from crowd. Jupp needed clarity. Someone in his position should really understand the threats of lawsuits schools face.
-hadn’t thought of it in that manner
-teacher needs to be vigilant
-clear code of conduct
-have to be rave enough to think we can do it without misbehavior
-not argument from other side
-not really answered that well

Final vote
for 26%
against 74%
very surprising outcome

I think there was a big problem with the way the question was asked. It seemed the “against brick and mortar” side took the statement to mean that the way schools are set up now, currently works against our students. The “for brick and mortar” side took it as a question of should we have physical learning spaces. The arguments came across not on the same point. I think most agreed that there is nothing wrong with a physical space for learning. That is probably why that side seemed to win in the end. I wish the statement they were arguing about was a bit clearer. We may have gotten a bit better clearer debate. However, the points made by all participants were great and well thought out. Gary Stager was certainly the most entertaining if not most passionate about his convictions.

My thoughts on the matter? Local schools are a great place for learning. However, we need to be future focused and start designing what happens within the walls around current students needs. If that doesn’t happen then yes, bricks and mortar schools are a detriment to the future of education.

UPDATED – Raw notes: NECC09 Tuesday Afternoon Session: Here Comes Learning!

Updated July 8th, 2009 with thoughts and fixes. My thoughts are in blue.

Here Comes Learning!
Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Session description: In a world of learning networks and communities, how do we help our students move from simple sharing to collective action in the world.

Thanks to, a recording of this session is available online.

We are going to be looking at how learning in changing in the landscape of web 2.0 tools.

What does learning look like now.?

Changes in student learning requires teachers to change they way they approach their own learning. I think this is often a difficult task. It require a teacher that really sees part of their job as being a learner. Not always easy when your model for teaching is the sage on the stage. As cliche as it is, education is starved for true life long learners.

The session was connection to Linden(?) NJ, through some type of Polycom device. I missed the explanation of this part of the session.

They started of by showing “help with bowdrill set” by YouTube user bushkrafft as an introduction. Here is the video:

  • asking people to post on Youtube to tell him what he is doing wrong.
    • powerful video – kids asking about things he is interested in. curiosity is showing its face
    • lack of structured classroom. great example of self-directed learning
  • audience discussed and presented thoughts
    • he wanted feedback
    • don’t know if there was parent feedback
    • maybe there is no one in is physical environment that knows how to fix it
    • he seems comfortable with the process of posting on youtube.
    • don’t see face, don’t know where he is,
    • there is an expectation in his voice that is “is” going to be solved
  • encouraging feedback from youtube
  • how did he know he was going to get a response?
  • things in the online environment can change the way we connect

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach:

  • talked about personal experience of using the wisdom of crowds
  • mentioned the teachers sometimes have a hard time showing that they “don’t know everything” and find it hard to step out of the role of knowledge pusher
  • got into knowledge mentoring
  • the community is where professional development should be taking place
  • I have heard this many times so far at NECC…”it isn’t about the tools. it is about what you do with them”
  • have teacher come out of the 4 walls of their classroom, and interact and grow with the community.
  • “My greatest insight as a fellow is recogntition of the urgency for change in the way we teach today’s students” – quote from a teacher that worked with SNB
  • this is always how I feel after a conference such as NECC or ACTEM or most PD opportunities. It is our challenge to bring that urgency to our collegues.


  • mentions Clay Shirky’s Here come everybody.
  • techtonic shift – ease of creating groups around issues has forever changed our cultural landscape
    • with this makes it more complex to understand truth
    • defines the need for 21st century literacy
    • collective action is the holy grail of these connective apps
  • we have the ability to access so much raw data that wasn’t possible just a few years ago
  • richardson showed a tweet about him hating orbitz
    • obritz called them about it
    • now have the ability to force the hand of companies due to the connectivity we have and the ease of publishing
    • I liked this example as it shows true democracy in action.

Kids are using technology using for social reasons. Connecting in friendship based ways.

Starting to connect in interest-based ways

  • connecting with strangers
  • this is a good thing because accessing millions of potential teachers

Education should be interest based. Focus on strengths. Change form classroom structure to community structure. Teacher as co-learner.

Best practice in 21st century Skills

  • talks about the partnership
  • all focus on community

National Staff Development Forum

  • must check them out for model of PD

Define community

  • in short, a group that over time is focused on improvement and do so together

    Sharing communities of practice need to be designed in such a way that they evolve over time.

    • helps buy in with people if they have a stake in the process and feel like they have a say in their own learning
    • What develops is co-created and collaborative with multiple opportunities for member feedback and ownership.

    Mentioned a tweet from Scott Mcleods sessions:

    • “The real revolution here isn’t online learning, it is personalized learning.”