It is January 1, 2010, and I am riding on the Heartland Flyer Amtrak train from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas. I have been watching presentations from the 2009 K-12 Online Conference on my iPhone. Thanks to the available podcast channels in iTunes and the presentation transcoding functionality provided by the conference Blip.tv account, I have all 54 presentations from this year’s conference on my iPhone as audio-only files, and 52 of the presos as videos. There were apparently some issues with 2 of them being linked in the podcast channel as iPod compatible videos, which is something I will follow up on later. Since I am blogging this from the WordPress 2.1 iPhone app, I am not going to insert many links in this post now but will go back and add links later.

Yesterday I actually watched Mathew Needleman’s session "Steal This Preso" on my iPhone, which addresses copyright and fair use in the classroom.

Mathew is 100% right in contending that we need to work on dispelling the myth of brightline percentage limits on fair use guidelines. I was glad to hear him not only explain the legal basis for fair use determinations, but also address Creative Commons. I suspect if we were to do a formal survey of Oklahoma K12 teachers, less than 10% would report understanding CC and using CC media regularly with students. Mathew is also on the money explaining how MANY teachers and schools violate copyright today in classrooms by showing copyrighted movies for entertainment rather than educational purposes. Just before our winter holidays here in Oklahoma we saw lots of examples of this in our Oklahoma schools. It is a shame more administrators as well as teachers do not model even a rudimentary respect for the use of copyrighted materials in the classroom. Thanks to Mathew for sharing this outstanding overview presentation. If more educators took time to see it, I am confident our respect for copyright and fair use in our classrooms would increase.

Today on our train ride, I first watched Rachel Boyd’s keynote presentation, "A Peek for a Week" in the Week on the Classroom strand.

I had watched about half of this during the actual conference, but needed to finish it up. I watched it again in it’s entirety, because this is one of many K12online videos I am going to require my preservice teachers watch this spring in our T4T class. Rachel’s uses of her classroom blog and wiki to support student learning in the classroom are positively exemplary. I like how she provides her students with a blogging space for writing also that is not corrected by teachers and other adults. I have seen far too many examples of "student work" which are so heavily edited by adults that the work entirely loses its authentic sense of student voice. I am completely convinced we need to promote GREATLY increased quantities of student writing in and out of the classroom to improve literacy skills. Rachel provides great inspiration to me for this. She is also on target sharing her conviction that technology can be a powerful and constructive amplifier of GOOD teaching and learning practices. Her students in Nelson, New Zealand were so blessed to have her as their teacher! I understand Rachel is moving to a new part of New Zealand over their summer holidays (right now) and I will look forward to continuing to follow her. I hope my own Rachel (now 6 years old) is fortunate to have such a caring, knowledgeable, and capable teacher as Rachel Boyd during her own primary school years.

I next watched Diego Leal’s keynote "Bringing It Out a Notch."

Although an English-subtitled version of this preso is available on DotSub, we do not have that version downloaded and linked within the podcast channel. (I am actually not sure how to do that either, with the DotSub transcriptions integrated as part of the actual video file.) My Spanish skills are OK, so I was able to get a great deal out of Diego’s presentation, listening to him in Spanish. I am so impressed as well as thrilled with the leadership he is providing, along with Jose Rodriguez, in translating many of our past K12online presentations. I am 100% on board with his points about the accessiblity, language, and poverty divides which separate us as learners on earth today. We must find ways to bridge these divides, and Diego is modeling ways that is being done and can be done. This passion I share with Diego and others to provide digital educational opportunities for ALL learners, not just the wealthy and the fortunate, is a big part of the reason I want to encourage our Oklahoma schools to embrace Ubuntu on netbooks for our current statewide 1:1 learning initiative.

I resonated also with Diego’s points about how important it is to help teachers understand and embrace transformational learning practices. The EduCamp he helped facilitate for teachers in Colombia looked and sounded like a fantastic, immersive learning experience for everyone involved. We need to provide more learning experiences like this for our Oklahoma teachers. I also resonated with Diego’s illustrations of how too often, as teachers we ask students to merely copy ideas from the formal curriculum… and this has a minimal effect on long term learning and comprehension. The example he provided of students going to a local museum and working collaboratively to digitally represent different ideas from the exhibits when they returned to the classroom was fantastic. This is one if the instructional project ideas I have wanted to champion through Storychasers. It is great to learn how teachers and students in Colombia are already doing this.

My third K12online09 preso today was Janine Lim’s session on strategies to make videoconferencing more interactive.

Last year’s presentation on videoconferencing by Brian Crosby is one of my favorites to share with other teachers at conferences where I present, and I think Janine’s will become a favorite this year. So many of our schools have videoconferencing capabilities but do not use them interactively! One-way delivery of content using an interactive media platform like videoconferencing is technology abuse! This is why Janine’s ideas and presentation are so needed. I love how she connected her ideas to Marzano’s strategies, in ways that remind me of Stephanie Sandifer’s book on wikis in the classroom. (“Wikified Schools”)  I was very glad to learn about the "videoconferencing templates" (available as a MS Word document) Janine has developed and shares on her website. I am going to share this with my preservice teachers this spring as well.

I am going to wrap up this post, as we are nearing Fort Worth. I will close by noting that the sort of international learning experiences I have had today on our Heartland Flyer train ride should be available to ALL learners in our communities, not just those who can afford a monthly iPhone contract with AT&T. My virtual hat is off to ALL our K12online presenters and volunteers, who have opened the door to countless digital learning experiences like the ones I have had yesterday and today.

We need to do more to spread the word and share the FREE K-12 Online Conference.

Addition: I added more links to this post, as well as embedded videos, using Windows Live Writer.


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One Response to K12Online09 on The Heartland Flyer

  1. Mathew says:

    Thanks for watching my presentation and for your feedback. Aside from copyright violations involved in showing movies in class purely for entertainment purposes, it really bothers me from an educational standpoint to waste class time. I work with students who are far behind academically. They’re not missing out on seeing movies but they are not getting academic help at home; that’s why they come to school.

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