First Fall for Our Little Pumpkin

Of course our little pumpkin is none other than –







With fall now officially upon us in New England, Ali took Hadley on her first hunt for a pumpkin in preparation for Halloween, Ali’s favorite holiday. As you can see below, things went pretty well. Mom and baby were successful with the help of Aunt Keri. Hadley definitely has a wardrobe for the season.

The leaves finally started to look ablaze this past week or so. Prior to that, it was more here and there and mostly green.

Of course this fall has brought us another deep playoff run by the Red Sox, which just got a whole lot more exciting with a definitive victory in game 6 of the championship series. Hadley was definitely ready to go today, donning her Red Sox shirt in preparation for an ALCS beating at Fenway. Still, without another win, it is just another in a line of Boston baseball heartbreaks. We’re all holding onto the chance for return to World Series. Tomorrow will tell.

Reactions to “Third World America” and the Whole Broadband is the Future Ruse

So I was scrolling through my RSS reader and came across a blog post, “Third World America,” by edtech maven David Warlick, his keynote was the subject of my previous post. In it he discusses how he was in rural Wisconsin, speaking to educators as part of a professional development event, and he had no access to the Internet in his hotel. As he spoke to the teachers he also states:

“But what was hovering just beyond these conversations was the fact that a
large percentage of the population that these educators serve are without
Internet and a larger percentage who do have it, are still dialing in. Part of
the problem is that the area is fairly economically depressed.”

Ironically, I had just been discussing the same issue in a class I am taking to prepare to teach an online course next semester, through a virtual high school. The reality is that there are all kinds of students that will miss the opportunity of online learning simply because they do not have necessary access, which is quickly meaning broadband, let alone the other kinds of artificial governors that schools place on which students get to take online courses. And to think, I will be teaching this course through consortium in which my public school employer is a member!

Even more ironic, I was just speaking with my good friend Joanne, who recently moved to rural Washington. She too was experiencing all kinds of obstacles to obtaining Internet access. The best suggestion to her, at this point, was to build a 100 foot tower on her property, to get above the tree line, so that she could install a satellite dish at the top. Mind you, none of the service providers were even willing to guarantee that the dish would even work!

So, I found myself practically having the same conversation for three days in a row.

All of this got me piping hot about this Internet access issue, and completely agreeing with Warlick’s conclusion:

“Today, geography should not be a factor in who has access to the world of information, who the world of information has access to, nor who has the opportunities to tap into the info-verse and harness opportunities to serve and participate in the emerging global economy.”

He is right on the mark with this post. Moreover, this is a whistle that has not been blown loud enough.

We are already at a point where over half of the packet traffic on the Internet is rich content, demanding broadband connections. To not have a broadband connection in the not too distant future will be to slowly slide deeper and deeper into a “dark age,” which is unconscionable in our country. One of the promises of technology and innovation is that it is a democratizing force in our society, allowing people increased opportunity and information; but we are quickly approaching the moment where that simply is not the case. The price of broadband entry is already high for many and not likely to get any better quickly. So the democratization of technology is really for the haves, while the have nots look to be just plain out of luck.

Robert X. Cringely also wrote some columns about the promised state of broadband access in this country (“When Elephants Dance,” “Game Over,” and “The $200 Billion Rip-Off”), and they chart a history that is downright criminal. Worse yet the real problem is that it doesn’t seem as if many people are even concerned about such a looming crisis. The articles are alarming to say the least.

Much of the Bill Moyers reporting Warlick even mentions is available at the PBS website “Moyers on America – The Net at Risk.” The transcripts, audio, and video are all unavailable.

Not addressing this issue seems to me, not only shameful, but positively un-American.

Reflections on the K12 Online Conference Keynote

In the 21st century, we learn by teaching with each other. We learn by sharing our knowledge, our experience, what we’ve discovered, what we’ve
– David Warlick

As I have re-immersed myself in education-technology recently, I have been paying particular attention to the array of digital tools and the blogs of some prominent reform thinkers. As a result, I came across the K12 Online Conference, which is a fascinating asynchronous professional development opportunity that fully leverages the power of the technology tools now readily available.

The keynote speech was presented by one of edtech’s foremost heavy-hitters David Warlick. Entitled “Inventing New Boundaries,” it is a short movie that features Warlick moving around to various locations that serve to metaphorically strengthen his presentation.

Overall, it is a kind of extension of his blog and podcast material, but he makes some wonderful points about the nature of education today. While none of it is ground breaking or even completely original, Warlick is a wonderful synthesizer with an easy-going, genteel demeanor that is both engaging and charismatic. It is interesting stuff for anyone interested in how the world’s changing is impacting education. I highly recommend giving it a look.

His main thesis is establishing three major issues converging conditions:

  • Info-Savvy Students – Yet they still need assistance to learn how to work the information.
  • New Information Literacy – Yet they still need help to create opportunities; need to work in responsive environments; safely make mistakes; earn audience and attention.
  • Unpredictable Future – Most powerfully the young need models to help teach them how to teach themselves.

One of the more interesting analogies was a reference to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and the creative problem solving of the protagonist. The Ender’s Game discussion of boundaries reminds me of the intricacies and subtleties of the folksonomy idea. Now that the traditional boundaries are disappearing, that doesn’t mean that there is no need for boundaries. In fact, it puts more responsibility on the learner to erect their own boundaries and taxonomy, in order to establish some kind of order and frame for their learning. Of course, this act is constantly changing, evolving, fusing together the individual and experience.

The whole thing has really got me thinking, as you might have noticed, especially as I begin preparatoin to venture into online teaching. That’s right, I will be teaching a class completely online, for the first time, next semester. I am very much looking forward to what the rest of the conference.