Who I Work For

In one of the talks I do on a semi-regular basis I share thoughts on my audiences — one is way down the path and the other is the one that stands before me on my campus. While the students I work to inspire and support right now are really important, it is the ones down the path a bit that I love to think about. I have a built in barometer living in my house with my own two digital kids. My daughter is eight and my son is 3 and they are both heavily engaged in the use of digital devices.

Kids_bars

More and more I am watching both of them attacking digital devices in ways that just a year or so ago they didn’t. They’ve mastered the Nintendo Wii, their DSi, the iPod Touch, and in a lot of ways the Mac. My little boy can browse (and we’ve learned, also place things in a sopping cart) the web with relative ease. But what has become amazing is how my daughter is using the Mac to create digital artifacts — the creation of blog posts, videos using PhotoBooth, and podcasts using GarageBand seem close to second nature to her. It gives me a great view into what our students will demand of us as they arrive on campus.

With that said I continue to be torn about my need to provide the platforms, but I still think it is important and I do not think the platforms we provide are simple commodities given the importance of privacy, identity, and other emerging concerns.

I showed Brad Kozlek my daughter’s travel journal she keeps for school yesterday and we got to talking about how cool it is that we are building the future infrastructure to support children like her. She keeps her travel journal as a WordPress blog and sends the URL to her teachers, classmates, and family. I love everything about it — especially that she can do it herself. This time we even looked at how to embed pictures from Flickr in her posts! What is interesting is that this space grows over time and allows us to look back at things in ways one can’t when living in a more analog Universe. We looked back at our trip to Washington DC as we were finishing the post from the Outer Banks with real amazement of all we did — we sort of relived the trip and that was really cool.

Travel_blog

So when people ask me why I care so much about providing platforms for digital expression one of the first stories I tell them is the one about my own children and how I want education to be able to support them in all sorts of ways. I want them to be able to do what they can do at home inside the walls of the school … I need them to feel like the things they make are an important part of who they are today and who they will become. I need them to feel the power related to thinking about their thinking and I really want them to actively reflect on what that means to them. As I sat looking at her travel blog I actually got goose bumps thinking about how important our work really is — and how important it is to build opportunities for how it should be in the future.

What it Takes

It used to be so simple. Creativity and originality were nice little things that most of us could wrap our heads around. If you had some sort of talent — music, drawing, editing, writing, or whatever, it was relatively easy to impress … at least that’s the way I remember it. While the Interenet is one of my favorite things in the whole World, it has upped the ante in some amazing ways. The notions of art, music, editing, writing, storytelling, and everything else in the creative space has been blown wide open by the instant access to all things that standing out in the global crowd seems harder than ever.

Take for example the two person band who made this out of control original video for youtube, Pompalmoose. I actually remember when it was enough to just be able to sing, or play, or write, or edit, or anything else. If you watch this and some of their related videos I think you’ll get a similar feeling that I have — that the Internet and technology (in general) has turned creative expression into a much more complex thing. Maybe I am overstating the output, but these two have some heavy skills — skills I see more and more of our students showing up with. The idea related to what it takes to express oneself has been changed and that landscape continues to shift under our feet. Did I mention I love the Internet.


Mipper Rogers

PBS, though, hopes that Mr. Rogers will live on for children — online. Last month, PBS began streaming full-length episodes of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on both its Rogers site and its PBSKids site. “We think about Fred every single day,” said Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president for children’s media at PBS. “The PBSKids site is based on a philosophy that I think he pioneered of looking at the whole child.”

via www.nytimes.com

When I was little I would sit on the couch every evening to watch Mipper Rogers — that’s what I called him. Almost everything I know about interpersonal behavior can be traced to his lessons. The fact that his reruns aren’t shown on any of the channels I get is a crime. Am I being too nostalgic or is there nothing like him around today? Read the NYTimes piece and make sure you watch the video below (even though I’ve linked it before) … if you care about people and education it makes you smile. Even if it makes me a hippy.

Print?

It makes me wonder once again if a group of like minded folks couldn’t do the same sort of thing with Teaching with Technology|Penn State? I think so. I’d love it.

via www.personal.psu.edu

I loved the idea of a real physical print piece focusing on teaching and learning with technology at Penn State the first time my friend and colleague Dave Stong suggested it. I just wonder if print is the right medium. Perhaps I am being too closed minded (and I am inviting anyone to tell me so) about the idea. I love the Penn State Research magazine for lots of reasons … and it honestly makes me wonder if I’d be more or less likely to read its stories in print or online. I only now even looked to see if there is an online companion and it doesn’t come close to living up to the print version. It is screaming for a digital version that makes sense and captures the same visceral feeling the print version does — I’m not sure HTML can do that.

What I wonder is if the kinds of stories we want to tell wouldn’t benefit from a more stylized monthly digital aggregate of the content we are currently producing. Jamie Oberdick in ETS does a great job producing daily content — some with companion videos and podcasts that probably wouldn’t translate to a print only format. Would we just end up with a magazine that said, “to hear more about X, visit our website at http://tlt.psu.edu?”

What I do see is the potential to reach new stakeholders. People who might want to bowled over by what we do, but don’t spend a heck of a lot of time online — especially looking for our content. We are reaching a certain percentage of the market (so to speak), but could be ignoring a whole other demographic … reaching them is a worthy goal.

In my estimation we ought to figure out how to auto create ePub versions of our content for the iPad or other ePub capable devices given where mobile reading might be going. I worry about the cost, distribution, and everything else that goes with physical printing — but given I know very little of the process I could be wrong. If we could roll our web content out the way we do online and have it move into a flexible workflow that would produce both a print and ePub version we’d be hitting a much larger percentage of people … and we’d be satisfying people across lots of dimensions of the spectrum. One thing having a regularly published print piece would give us is a long term historical artifact that could actually be stored at the Library … but at the end of the day my guess is that they would scan them and store them as PDFs. Any thoughts?


Credit Dave Stong

Yep

I pre-ordered a 32 GB wifi iPad, a standard dock, and a VGA adaptor. I thought I’d share the results of my totally unofficial quick Twitter poll from the other day where I got (a whopping) 32 responses … eight have have pre-ordered iPads with six of those being wifi only. Another eight said they would be buying an iPad with half going for the wifi only. Seven aren’t at all interested in buying an iPad. We shall see.

Yep

I pre-ordered a 32 GB wifi iPad, a standard dock, and a VGA adaptor. I thought I’d share the results of my totally unofficial quick Twitter poll from the other day where I got (a whopping) 32 responses … eight have have pre-ordered iPads with six of those being wifi only. Another eight said they would be buying an iPad with half going for the wifi only. Seven aren’t at all interested in buying an iPad. We shall see.