This past holiday I’ve undertaken the formidable but necessary tasks of backing up all my laptop hard drive documents, archiving old computer files I’ve continued to keep on my laptop (even though there is a 0.00001% chance I’ll ever actually need those files) as well as cleaning up closets and storage cabinets around our house which have housed a lot of technology “stuff” and conference handouts I never read and now, months later, I’m finally ready to admit I never will. (This latter act has won me considerable “good husband points” with my wife.)

Miguel Guhlin’s recent post about his own digital backup processes encouraged me in my backup procedures, which are far less sophisticated and still (deep sigh) ongoing today. Cheryl Oakes‘ recent post for TechLearning “It is not a matter of if…” has also helped motivate me in these efforts.

The best part of cleaning out closets, drawers, and hard drives is that sometimes, you discover a long-lost item of real value! One of my finds this holiday was a website directory of old conference and edtech site visit trip notes I took from 2002 – 2004, which were previously hosted on my Texas Tech University student website. That account was deactivated, so these EXTREMELY valuable notes (yeah right, whatever) were almost lost to the cause of aggregating human knowledge. Back from the dead, I present to you my archived conference notes from 2002-2004. :-)

I Wish I Had an Angel
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sighthound

I remember Steve Dembo stumbled across these awhile back when they were still online at Texas Tech and posted about them, but I can’t find his post today to reference it. At any rate, it IS interesting to look back and review some of these past notes. I am particularly glad to find my notes from Dr. Vladimir Uskov’s presentation at eLearn2003. I wracked my brain recently to try and remember his name for a literature review, and couldn’t come up with it. I remembered he’s done some extensive research on the effects of coursecasting/lecturecasting on student grades and attendance.

One of the other sessions I’m glad to resuscitate is Jay Goin’s keynote at the 2003 TXDLA conference titled “University of Phoenix Online: Truths, Myths, and Lessons Learned.” This was a memorable keynote about distance learning and the University of Phoenix, which remains (last I heard) the fastest growing university in the United States.

There is TREMENDOUS value to digitizing and sharing our learning with others when we attend conferences and participate in professional development. If I was a school superintendent, I’d require all the teachers in my district to write blog summaries and reflections as a regular part of professional development sessions, whether they involved conference travel or not. The process of summarizing and reflecting on a professional development workshop has inherent value for the writer, and posting those notes online assures (as long as the hosting account is not deleted) that the notes and links can be referenced later if needed. In our world of Google indexing, you never know when notes you’ve taken and shared with others could be useful for an unintended purpose or unexpected context. This value of public idea sharing is communicated well in the opening quotation Miguel Guhlin uses on his “Share More” wiki:

A candle loses none of its light when it lights another.

My old conference notes highlight the BIG differences between “web 1.0 publishing” and “web 2.0 publishing.” These archived notes are static and non-interactive. If you want to leave a comment, you can’t– at least not directly on one of the webpages. You could annotate one of them with Diigo, but only other Diigo users with the toolbar installed and annotations turned on would be able to “see” your comments and annotations. Not very accessible. In contrast, all recent posts to my WordPress blog accept comments as well as trackbacks. It is AMAZING to see how far web publishing has come in just four years!

I connect this line of thinking with student learning and online portfolios in the same way H. Songhai did in his 2008 K-12 Online Conference presentation, “What Did You Do in School Yesterday, Today, and Three Years Ago?” As learners, we ALL need to continually collect, share and publish a body of digital work which reflects what we know, what we question, what we’ve done, and what we think. This is the essence of “helping kids create their own positive digital footprint,” which Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach discussed in our interview about 21st century learning and K12Online yesterday morning on Winnipeg Radio.

We all leave footprints in this world, both physical as well as digital ones.

footprints and the tree
Creative Commons License photo credit: wvs

Our digital footprints can and should provide authentic windows into our journeys of learning which we and others can helpfully reference tomorrow as well as in the years to come.

Writing, December, 2008
Creative Commons License photo credit: Maggie Osterberg

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  • http://school20.siglersite.com James Sigler

    Wes,

    Your comment

    If I was a school superintendent, I’d require all the teachers in my district to write blog summaries and reflections as a regular part of professional development sessions, whether they involved conference travel or not.

    struck a chord with me.

    I actually tried starting a PD reflection blog for the teachers in my district. http://cjprofdev.edublogs.org/ It was an interesting, but failed experiment. It took longer to blog the reflection than to fill out the PD “reflection” form. Teachers are busy people, so there needs to be a perceptible benefit to taking the extra time.
    Also, the form could be filled out immediately after the workshop, where you had to be at an internet-connected computer to blog it.
    I was the only one who posted. Admittedly, I had only talked to other, but did not show them how to do it. It would take some training and convincing to require blogging as required PD reflection.
    Of course I was also the only one who had ever blogged before.

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