Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Partial victory web-casting from the Smithsonian

As previously mentioned, today at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. my son and I successfully conducted two short web-casts over my channel using an AT&T / Sierra Wireless USB laptop data connection device (it’s not a true “card,” so I’m not sure what else to call it), my MacBook, a small digital camcorder, a long firewire cable, and a good deal of troubleshooting.

For some reason, our web browsers kept crashing when we had the DV camera selected as the video and audio source. I tried using Safari, FireFox, and Flock. Finally, Safari worked. Given this situation, I’m planning to arrive early for my first session at COSN tomorrow and setup the stream in advance. I won’t be presenting from my Macbook, I’ll be using it to stream, and hopefully my browsers will be more cooperative.

These broadcasted videos do represent much more a “bleeding edge” level of technology use rather than “the cutting edge.” I think with the available bandwidth now on the 3G network here in D.C., it would be better if I choose to ratchet DOWN the video quality in the Ustream braodcast and rachet UP the audio quality. The audio in the recorded videos seemed pretty choppy to me this evening during playback. Maybe that was due to my local connection here or something else. I hope it sounded smoother for the few folks who tuned in “live” for this test, as well as future playbacks. I even contemplated deleting these from the Ustream site, or making them private, but for now I’ll leave them up and available.

Wright Brothers Aircraft – Length: 11:49

Bell X1 and Spirit of St Louis – Length: 4:23

They certainly DO represent another level of the “publish at will” world in which we live, and about which I have written previously. We are living in 2008. We “just” have 3G cell networks in some metro areas at present. WiMAX is not yet here. But it is coming. Along with even more bandwidth innovations I’m sure. The trend lines all point in one direction: More access, more speed, for more people, more places. How will school leaders choose to respond? Like the Pennsylvania superintendent who is actively discouraging all uses of the read/write web, not only at school but also at home for students? (Nod to Kristin Hokanson.) Some students are going to KEEP making bad choices with digital technologies, just as they have with analog technologies and even WITHOUT access to technology. It’s our job as adults, educators and parents to help them learn to make GOOD choices.

It’s impossible to learn how to drive by just “talking about it.” You have to drive. Driving is about some motor skills, but it is more about DECISION MAKING skills. The same goes for ethical decision-making in the 21st century information landscape. How do we help students learn to make good decisions about digital tools? By using those digital tools and helping them navigate the pitfalls as well as opportunities. We need to be talking more about safe digital social networking, and less about how every new digital technology needs to be banned from schools and homes.

Have you offered a workshop for teachers in your school about using cell phones for learning? There are ways to use cell phones for learning EVEN if the school district bans cell phones at school. Students can use them as mobile recording tools from home, complete online surveys created by a teacher or their peers, and CONSTRUCTIVELY take digital photos which support classroom learning and yes… even content standards in the official school curriculum!

I know I’m in a minority group using a cell network data card to webcast from a remote location today, but that will NOT be the case in five to ten years. The digital technologies and the access they provide are going to keep coming. Our teachers and parents are NOT ready now, in many cases, and they won’t be ready tomorrow if we don’t help them.

As forward looking educators advocating for constructive changes in our schools, we need to serve as “bridges” for those in the middle, making the transition from 20th century to 21st century learning environments. It’s time to build LOTS of bridges to the future in our communities.


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One response to “Partial victory web-casting from the Smithsonian”

  1. Yvette Hakim Avatar
    Yvette Hakim

    Hey Wesley,
    Nice job with the video on the Wright Brothers it was definitely worth the work. My name is Yvette and I do some work with The Smithsonian Channel Community and came across your blog post and thought you may be interested in joining the Smithsonian Channel Community at It has some great extra video footage and behind the scenes interviews with veterans at The Air and Space Museum.

    Also, the Executive Producer of the Channel, David Royle, is live blogging at the New Stonehenge dig site for the next few days. There are blog posts from him and photos and videos at this link, with much more to come:

    If your interested or have any questions check it out and let me know what you think!