Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reflections on Earthcast08

earthcast badge

What an awesome day! To celebrate Earth Day, a group of 10 or so of us from all over the world worked together to pull off 24 hours of non-stop programming over the entire GMT day. The webcasting team came from Canada, Germany, Australia, the UK, Portugal, and the USA. Conversations centered around preserving the Earth. Guests included scientists, environmentalists, business leaders, educators, community members, and students! We recorded the day's events, which will be available soon for those to listen to later.

Participants filled the chat room to ask questions of the hosts and special guests - the live conversations were fun and informative. I was actively involved with about 18 of the hours either by hosting or providing behind-the-scenes support to the person hosting. This was true of the entire Earthcast team. It was the best teamwork I've ever been a part of!

The day was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. The pass-offs at the hour mark when webcasters passed the streaming to someone else in another part of the world were times when everyone came together - checking the sound, offering suggestions, and encouraging each other.

Student voices were heard from all over the world about important environmental matters. They were poised and proud to be broadcasting to a worldwide audience and they were invested in the subject. Their teachers report that they want to know when they can do something like this again.

I felt a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I streamed both audio and video from my laptop for the first time and I didn't mess it up. I enjoyed sharing the 6th grade blogging project done by April Warren and her students, and talking with Sue Hellman and her students about a video they created for Earth Day. I also interviewed Chris Clonen, the Project Manager of General Motors' Education website and loved the conversation and learning about hybrid vehicles, fuel cells, no waste manufacturing plants, and more.  Click here for archived audio of the interview.

This one one of the highlights of my entire career and I look forward to future similar experiences. The possibilities are endless!

Thanks to the entire Earthcast team and everyone who participated! This event would not have been possible without the support of WorldBridges and EdTechTalk.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Random Thoughts After Power Up! Conference

Oakland Schools (county in SE Michigan) hosted a technology conference today.  The opening keynoter was Lee Rainie from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  His presentation was a timeline of when new technologies were introduced.  He eventually got to web 2.0 resources.  His presentation fit the need of the audience.   There were only four people who knew what Twitter was, and only a few that had heard of, to name a few of the tools that were mentioned.  A few people from my district asked me about some of what was mentioned in the keynote, so that was good! 

This is a cool story:  A teacher from my district (the wonderful John Shaw) presented about a blogging project he did with 4th graders using Blogmeister, see handout.  He showed how easy it is to embed Flickr slideshows and audio recordings.  His student teacher was there, too.  She did not have an active role in the presentation, but she chimed in with a few thoughts here and there.  After the session, a curriculum director from a local district approached her and told her that they had two teaching positions available and told her to apply, telling her that she wanted to hire teachers that did these kinds of projects.  Hooray!

I presented in teh afternoon about an 8th grade Social Studies unit that is taught using Moodle.  All of our 8th graders will be involved, as this is used as a performance assessment for technology literacy.  It was fun to share about the development of the curriculum and the teacher professional development. 

At the end of the day, Julie Evans of Project Tomorrow shared the results from the nation-wide Speak Up data, as well as specific results for Oakland County.  The results are included in her PowerPoint presentation.  "The students want to be productive in school, and want to have access to their devices... their laptop, mp3 player, Smartphones, and PDAs!"

Bruce Umpstead gave an overview of the state of Michigan's use of technology.  He did a great job of highlighting the key points and his philosophy matches mine!  He will be the keynoter for Walled Lake's Spice it Up Conference on August 26, and his message would be perfect for our administrators and teachers.