Archives For Conferences

Notes from various conferences

The Blue Skunk himself put in an appearance at this year’s TIES conference. Doug is presenting about the social web and some issues that schools encounter trying to understand it. Doug’s handouts are posted on his blog. In particular, a large list of links are on this PDF version of his session handout.

Key points from Doug’s talk:

  • Checking out for a bit of a reality check regarding online predators and cyberbullies. (Note: it looks like they’ve changed their site and have moved to ConnectSafely.)
  • Some of our concerns in the Web 1.0 world about protecting students from content that they might find has been replaced by Web 2.0 concerns about what kind of content students might publish.
  • How do you decide what to publish on your blog: praise locally; complain globally. Complain all you want about educational issues, but do it in a global sense. Don’t complain about your boss or school on your blog. Your employer can discipline you for it in some cases. Keep you comments about what’s going on in your school positive and highlight the good stuff.
  • If you must block access to resources, do it on the basis of content and not format. You don’t block all magazines from your school because Penthouse is published in magazine form.

How can we teach kids to use this technology appropriately?

  • Articulate and demonstrate values
  • Reinforce positive behaviors
  • Discuss issues
  • Emphasize principles rather than rules
  • Assessment
  • Create low temptation environments that promote effective supervision
  • Chance to practice in low-risk settings

Doug suggests forming a advisory committee for district technology. I’ve got a group of teachers and parents, but they focus on tech integration issues exclusively. I could really use a group that would help me deal with policy issues. I’ll have to talk him some more about it.

We’ve been preparing to implement the ITIL standards in my district for about a year now. Now that five of us have achieved the foundation certification, I think we’re poised to make some significant headway this year. This presentation from the TIES Conference is a description of some of the ITIL fundamental concepts and a summary of my thinking about how we’ll tackle them in Buffalo. This is most definitely a work in progress.

I’ll post my slides here after my talk, but for now you can follow this links to learn more about ITIL:

Update: Here’s a link to my slides from this talk. I think most of them will make sense on their own, but anyone who looks at them will obviously miss some key things that were discussed in my talk at the conference.

Kurt Steinhaus is Deputy Cabinet Secretary of Education in New Mexico. (He’s also a marathoner who ran 4:38 at the 2007 Duke City Marathon.) The title of his talk is “Enjoying T-Time by the Sip or by the Gulp?”. His slides will be available on the conference wiki.

Kurt wants us to take action in three areas:

  • 21st Century Skills
  • Robust support systems that function “just in time.”
  • Innovative teaching and learning to keep pace in an increasingly digital world.

Kurt visited Minnesota a couple weeks before his keynote (something I’ve never seen before) and stopped to visit some schools.

What trends did he see?

  • Relentless, intense passion
  • Support system (technical and teching and learning)
  • More school-wide integration

Kurt observed some transitions underway in Minnesota and elsewhere:

  • From purchased licenses to Web 2.0 and open source
  • Application-based to Web-based and mobile learning
  • Isolated and offline to collaborative and online
  • Copyrighted content to shared content
  • Submitting reports to blogs and web publishing

What is the future of technology in education? It’s already here, it’s just not in every school yet.

How can we move forward?

  • Step 1: Where are we?
  • Step 2: Reach a broad consensus on a clear message (vision or goal).
  • Step 3: Meet them where they are and use your “bag of tricks” to move resources toward achieving the vision.

Kurt talked about how to advocate for your vision. Prepare a “One-pager” that you can give to key decision makers. Include the following things and customize your one-pager for each audience.

  • Name
  • Compelling vision
  • Brief overview of history
  • Rationale (why is this essential)
  • Funding request (include recurring and non-recurring costs)
  • Research base

Also, develop an “elevator pitch” that you can deliver to a decision maker in 30 seconds in any setting. One of Kurt’s recommendations: “Make your friends before you need them.”

Here are some notes from my presentation about virtualization technology. I’ll update this post after my session to cover some of the topics that come up in the discussion.

Learn more about virtualization

I’ll be at this year’s TIES Conference next Monday and Tuesday doing a couple presentations, connecting with old friends and colleagues, and scoping out the vendors. If you’re in the neighborhood, here’s the info on my presentations. I decided to go a little more geeky for a change this year. Now I just have to do the last bit of cramming to get ready.

Introducing Virtualization Technology: Options, Implementation and ROI

Monday, Dec 10, 11:20 a.m.–12:10 p.m.
Virtualization technology in the data center is revolutionizing the way servers are deployed and managed. Participants in this session will review current virtualization technologies, see a demonstration of VMware and hear how Buffalo schools achieved a one-year return on investment of over 100 percent by virtualizing most of its servers.

Implementing IT Best Practices: A District Case Study

Tuesday, Dec 11, 10:00 a.m.–10:50 a.m.
The Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District is in its first year of implementing the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practice standards for IT service management. Participants in this session will learn about ITIL and gain insights into one district’s successes and challenges reengineering key aspects of its IT support system.

See you there!

I did a 45-minute podcasting presentation at MEMO yesterday which focused on some of the practical aspects of podcasting. One of the things we talked a bit about was equipment for video podcasting. (I really don’t like the “vodcasting” or “vlogging” name.) I’m thinking about starting a video podcast, so I picked up the following gear to enable me to use my high-quality microphones with a low-end camera.

  • Canon ZR800 ($200) is low-cost camcorder that records onto DV tape. Canon has always provided a low-end camera with an audio input primarily intended for the education market. The audio input is key. Without it, you’re stuck using the relatively sucky built-in mic.
  • Studio 1 Productions XLR-BP Pro ($180) XLR microphone adaptor. The Canon ZR800 audio input is a 3.5-mm miniplug which means that it will be almost impossible to find a decent microphone to plug in directly. This adaptor makes it possible to use standard XLR microphones with the ZR800’s audio input. It has two XLR inputs plus a miniplug and a ¼" plug. You can mix and match any two of these input simultaneously. It’s got a clip on the back that makes it easy to hang it from your belt or attach it to a tripod.
  • ARTcessories Phantom II ($60) phantom power supply will deliver the phantom power you need to use condenser mics. I got this model because it’s battery powered and thus more friendly to mobile applications. If you’re using dynamic mics then you wouldn’t need this box. Most good lavalier microphones (aka lapel mics) are condenser mics that need the 48V phantom power.

We talked about microphones, and I recommended USB headset microphones like this Logitech model for student use. The beauty of a headset microphone is that once the proper levels are set, the student can move around and not change the distance to the mic. You’ll get much more even sound levels than with a microphone on a stand.

The crew at Mashable put together a really useful post entitled Podcasting Toolbox: 70+ Podcasting Tools and Resources last July. I get a lot of questions about the production and publication side of podcasting, and I’ve started sending people to that list because it’s really a comprehensive collection of all the web-based tools and services out there.

I’ll be at the MEMO conference tomorrow participating as a panelist talking about literacy (moderated by the Blue Skunk himself) and later doing an advanced podcasting session where I’ll probably do a lot of Q&A. I’ll do my best to post some summaries here.

Joe Morelock and I are presenting a podcasting workshop at this year’s NECC. Here are some links to various things we mentioned:

Podcast examples



I’ll update some more after this afternoon’s session.