Our First Real Podcast

Matt CrosslinWe finally got around to recording our first real podcast… on the drive home. What can I say? We were so in to the conference that we forgot to do many recordings :). You can see the most recent podcast in our Gcast widget on the right side of the page [EDIT: embedded below]. You can also see a list of past recordings by clicking on the “Posts” button. Here is the description of the most recent recording:

“Harriet interviews Erika, Scott, and Matt of UT Arlington and asks them what they most enjoyed about the TxDLA conference.”

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Into The Home Stretch

Matt CrosslinAnd the last day is actually here. I’d like to say that the time has flown by… but it hasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong – I have really enjoyed this conference. Rhonda and her legions of helpers and volunteers did a great job with this conference. It’s just that doing the blog, micro-blog, AND podcast took a lot more time and energy than I thought they would. It’s feels like it has been ages since I stepped out of Scott’s truck and Harriet said “let’s go get the micro-blog screen set-up!” I think the poor podcast bore the brunt of our busyness – well, that and the fact that cellphone reception at the convention center is extremely spotty. I really didn’t feel like dragging anyone in to the parking lot just for a quick interview.

There are many promising things happening at this year’s conferences. Several extremely radical ideas were thrown out at every session I attended (including general sessions). Usually these ideas meet with a mixture of enthusiasm and skepticism at every conference I have been at – but not here. The enthusiasm might have been cautious, but the skepticism seems to be blissfully absent (as it usually is at TxDLA).

And the absence of certain buzzwords that I don’t like, well… I need to get off of that one 🙂

I also noticed that I made it all the way until Wednesday night before someone made the claim that they were going to be revolutionizing the field of online education like no one has in ___ years. That’s neither good nor bad – just unusual. I love seeing all of the new products in the vendor hall, as well as reading the hype surrounding them with a smile. I explore emerging technologies on a daily basis, so I tend to be a tad too cynical about hype.

I also find it funny hearing people’s reactions to sessions in the halls, elevators, and lunch lines of the conference. Every day I hear this one comment: “It was a good session. They actually did exactly what the description said – I was thinking it would be something else. I wish that they had covered this or went more in detail on ______.” I think that is an interesting commentary on the American advertising system – people are actually surprised when they get exactly what the description says. (If you are a first time presenter – please realize that statements like that are meant as a compliment – as in, it was so good, they wanted more.)

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The Digital Native Myth

Matt CrosslinWe’ve been having an interesting side conversation on the Micro-blog. It started off with me saying this:

“Almost made the whole day without hearing my least favorite term “digital immigrant.”

It seems like whenever I bring up the term digital native or digital immigrant, I get at least a few (if not more) stories from teachers that can’t seem to find many of these “digital natives” out there. Those of us that are ready to let the students loose in the digital world that they are supposedly native to are getting blank stares from said students. I polled my wife’s 9th grade class last year and found that most of them had no idea what a blog was. Really – no clue. Do you know why? They don’t own a computer at home. Over 80% of them didn’t. There is this thing called the digital divide that is very real and very ignored.

Chris Duke sent me a link to an excellent blog post he wrote called “Millenials” are NOT different learners!! I think he makes an excellent point:

“Millenials have the opportunity to learn with grander and newer technologies than the those available to their teachers when their teachers were in secondary or undergraduate education.”

So, in other words, learning is the same – it’s just that society has changed and given our natural desire to learn new directions to grow that were not available just a decade ago. We’re tapping in to stuff that we always wanted, but just didn’t have the technology to do.

But I digress… my original point was how I despise the term digital native. Just because someone was born a certain year does not mean they will have access to a computer and therefore become a native. Now, there are those that grow up with a computer at home and they technically are a digital native. But there is also this implication that they are automatically more tech-savy than any given digital immigrant on any given day. This is just not true. Think about all of the people that you know who are true early adopters. I am thinking of some now… and no natives are coming to mind. I am usually the one convincing my 20 year old sister-in-law that she needs to sign up for a new website. Not the other way around.

I’ve been blogging on this subject a while on my main blog (EduGeek Journal). Here are more thoughts of mine on this subject (the first link is where I half-jokingly suggest some new terms to use and get some funny responses):

You Were Born a Digital Native. Now What?
Survey Says… (shattering online myths of digital natives)
The World is Not Flat – It is a Plateau

Now, I do recognize that there are differences with every generation. Always has been, always will be. We need to know what these differences are. But won’t focusing so much unnecessary attention on the differences just serve to drive a larger wedge between “us” and “them”? There are also huge similarities. We should stop acting like younger generations are an entirely different species than us. Recognize the differences, but like our keynote taught us this morning – learn to focus on the positive stuff that is there.

Update: Sorry there were some broken links – got those repaired….

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Are You Micro-Blogging Yet?

There are over 700 conference attendees and less than 20 bloggers? Why? This is the Texas Distance Learning Association. Emphasis on distance learning! Unfortunately I cannot attend every session and blog on it. We need contributors. All that we can get! It’s Wednesday and the conference is almost over. Let’s create and be the community we keep hearing about.

Kudos to those who have already joined the blogging and micro blogging.  However … we need more of you!  There are even some of you who are live blogging.  However, we would like to keep everyone within the twitter micro-blogging set up just for this conference.

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Wednesday Morning Keynote Speaker Dave Carey

Mr. Carey spoke on Meeting Your Challenges – Over HD hookup from Austin Texas.

He provides an analogy in the form of a story. On rare occasions something happens to us that creates monumental impact in our lives. What happened to him was during the Vietnam war in 1967. While flying he ejected from the plane, tried to radio for help no help came.  He was immediately surrounded by Vietnamese people.  He spent 5 and a half years in prison there.  How did he do it?  How did he make it through?  They (the prisoners) started by creating a communication process.  By knocking on the wall with “shave and a haircut, two bits” to locate other American soldiers.  They then knocked on the wall with numbers to correspond to the alphabet.  Then built a alphabet matrix from that.

They were cut off, isolated.  They were disconnected.  It is the same for us.  Sometimes we feel out of touch and isolated in our work environments.  How did they overcome that feeling? They moved on from initial communication to creating the “entertainment” committee.  They had 100% attendance at their cell meetings.  They set up a schedule for story telling.  He told the story of Dr. Zhivago.

They decided to grow through that experience.  They did what they had to do.  They kept the faith.  They taught each other, shared their experiences.  He learned to play the piano and performed for his cell mates. The inmates used Pig Latin for a while to communicate and then moved on to French.  They did what they had to do.

They memorized everything!  Everything you have ever been exposed to is carried in your brain.  You have to go dig it out.  Under interrogation, they tried to get information from him.  Interrogations, led to beatings which led to torture.  He got to the point that he couldn’t think, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything.  He started thinking about the 23 Psalm.  He could remember the first line of the 23 Psalm. He eventually dredged up the entire thing.

You would be totally amazed at what you could remember if you were in an isolated place and only had time to think.  Laughter was used a great deal during his imprisonment.  Laughter is good medicine.  They had faith in themselves to do the best that they could do.  Faith and trust in each other was crucial to their survival.  He placed is faith in God.  No matter what happens in our lives we choose how we are going to deal with it.  So how do you choose to deal with your problems?  It’s all a matter of choice!  We have the ability to deal with those choices.

When you listen to this presentation one can only think that there can be no greater obstacle or challenge than being tortured and imprisoned.  It puts our own challenges in perspective.  We CAN really deal with the challenges we have. We need to use our own imagination and ingenuity to deal with it and construct solutions.  We are responsible for coping with the challenges in our life.

This is the best of all times and possibly the worst of all times.  Being who you are, doing what you do, living where you are living…  it’s entirely up to us to which it is … the best of times or the worst of times.

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Podcast: Themes at TxDLA 2008

Matt CrosslinHad a free moment, so I started yacking in to my phone again. Here is the podcast description:

“Matt takes a minute to contemplate some of the early emerging themes at TxDLA 2008. Other than technical glitches, there seems to be an interest in students socializing and connecting with the world around them.”

Thoughts or comments? Feel free to sign up and post them here.

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The Wild Ride of Being a Presenter

Matt CrosslinWell… I knew that I was taking a chance by doing a hands-on session that totally relied on Internet connection to work. So, when the sites that I needed to do my presentation with weren’t coming up – I had to go to plan B. But plan B relied on a PowerPoint, which we don’t have installed on work laptops. So it was on to Plan C – make it up as I go along. So, yep… I was re-arranging my session as I went along. My train of thought is not always an easy ride to catch, but I think I finally got everyone on the right track. For those that weren’t there, or were there and need this information, there is a session wiki with all of my (original) notes in it:

http://moodledesign.pbwiki.com (The access key is moodle2008)

Tech glitches are the name of the game in online learning – what can I say?  I would have like to have gone in to Sloodle for more than 20 minutes at the end, but it is still an experimental program.  Just not much to see with it yet.

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Trouble with Internet Connection Speeds?

Please respond to this blog entry if you have had difficulty connecting to the network! As the blogstress it’s been a little hiccup for me.

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Effective Instructional Design Techniques

Matt Crosslin’s session was really great. One thing we learned was embedding a YouTube video inside of Moodle. Moodle has great versatility. Recently updated, the Moodle interface has changed slightly, but still offers a host of advantages as an open-source LMS. Anyone that has attended a presentation by Matt Crosslin in the past, knows that he provides a wealth of information and offers weekly tech news updates on his blog and social network on Ning. See the Edugeek Journal link on this page (bottom right).

I decided to post the video that we embedded in case you might be interested. (about copyright).

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Tuesday Morning Keynote Address

Alan November … funny funny man! He is a great storyteller. Let’s see what nuggets he imparted this morning:

In 2007, 65% of adults moved back home with their parents! Yikes. That’s like a crazy figure. This generation is called boomerangs, because they come back home?! Hilarious, but true!

10 Chinese children lining up at school to ask for more homework is virtually unheard of in the United States. But that is what we would ideally want for our children. A hunger for more knowledge. This is why we are here … to learn from each other and create new opportunities to foster that hunger for learning.

Social networks … how interesting that I’m blogging … using a social networking tool . Alan says that teens are social by nature anyway. Teachers have an amazing leverage point because students are walking way not understanding what just happened. Imagine if every student walked into class and were immediately placed into a study group.

Psychologically there is a need to contribute to community. He purports to know that kids want to contribute. Then he posed a question?

How would you find the impact of the Popes speech on Islam? You would put in the search terms on the Internet and get all western results. Biased points of view. So to get a more balanced return, make sure you teach critical thinking to your students by making sure they know how to use the web correctly. Using the correct algorithms, search terms, etc., when using the web.

Instead try typing in these search terms – Host: TR, “Pope’s speech”, “Islam “ ( you get Turkish returns)

We teach grammar and syntax in print we must do the same thing on the Internet. Children need to own their learning! He provided at least five jobs kids in the classroom can do:

  1. Curriculum review team: They create a podcast or vodcast each week. (Children creating content for everyone else)
  2. Tutorial design team: The screen cast was great. Even I could learn dealing with decimals. “Bob and Paul”. They used Camtasia to recreate a tutorial. There is nothing better than children helping children.
  3. Official Scribe: Assign students to work together to ascribe meaning as to what the class is actually about. Use Google docs to create documents that the students can add to/edit during class lectures. Incredible information can be gathered. You can actually see a stream of learning by how the students added to the document. The real issue is… are YOU ready to reengineer the culture to value the success of the group over the work of the individual? Our culture is so conditioned to value individual work.
  4. Global Communication Team: Design one PowerPoint in Google docs. Why wouldn’t you use this tool to work with students in groups? You can view all the revisions made to the document. You can upload it to the web. It’s a great tool. Host:ac.uk (academic organizations in the UK) Example: Designing, motivating rigorous learning by taking two versions of the American revolution and discussing it. It’s not so much about the technology as it is about creating meaning. Use role playing to compare and contrast the different versions of the revolution. Use Tandberg and Skype to do a video conference with a school in England. Create a podcast, blog it, post it to iTunes. There are design elements that go along with this: (1)Archive the information because you want people to comment for a very long time. (2)Assessment is done by teams of teachers across the web. (3) You want an “authentic” audience. (4) Collaboration is necessary. Connect what we teach to the powerful technologies that already exist.
  5. Official Researcher: The student’s job is to answer all questions in the class by using search engines and looking on the Internet for the answer by putting in all the search terms students offer. For example: If you were to go to – Google>More>Even More> Custom Search. You can design your own search engine from scratch. You can invite friends to do build the search engine with you. It will have its own web address. 100 people can build a search engine together anywhere in the world. It is a collaborative tool that can be shared across the whole class. The person who started the search engine can look at each person and know what they added.

Although we the audience were a little stoic in giving him non-verbal and verbal feedback, the presentation and information was challenging and thought provoking. Excellent presentation.

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Podcast: TwitterBoard, Micro-Blog, and Late Podcasts

Matt Crosslin[Note: the rest of the TxDLA 2008 Blog seems to have been lost. Many of the comments were also not archived, unfortunately. There were at least a few more posts: One by Harriet about the first day of TxDLA, one from Matt about his first unofficial podcast, and probably a few welcome posts. The podcast episode is presented below. All of these episodes were recorded through a cellphone dial-in podcast recording service called Gcast, so the quality is kind of low.]

“Listen to a tired Matt recap where you can see the TwitterBoard at TxDLA, how you can be involved with the micro-blog, and why the first podcast was recorded so late.”

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