Connected Learning

Learning Is About Connections Of All Kinds…

Processing… Please Wait

That is how I’ve felt reading dozens of other people’s blog posts since my last one here at Connected Learning. At first it really bothered me that I didn’t feel like I had much to contribute, since seemingly everyone else is either smarter, deeper in thought, more experienced, etc., than I am.

Then I began to read how it seems most people, at least in our little educational technology part of the world, REALLY use blogging – to process and learn, discuss and debate, and ponder myriads of things, and NOT so much about pontificating a point of view. Whew! I feel a little better and a lot less like a doofus now!

I was very charged up reading so many posts made during NECC07, and knowing that NECC08 is in San Antonio (much closer to my home here in Wichita), I plan on attending and enjoying all the conference AND unconference things next summer. It was very apparent that I didn’t have to be there in Atlanta to feel some level of connection to the events, and I know I got as much out of it as I have from conferences I’ve attended in person. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year’s K12Online Conference does in intentionally connecting us through the digital world.

And finally, how do we flex the muscle and power of what we are experiencing with all of this into the classroom, and more importantly, into our students lives so they can carry it beyond the classroom? Those of us who are more early adopters and a little more at ease with edgy ways of doing things may feel OK launching into this brave new world, but so many of our colleagues are cautious and wary, and to a certain extent, justifiably so. It is very easy in education to be leery of the “new thing”, since we have so many new things popping up every year to try out. Sadly, it brings out the reluctance, and at worst, the cynic to a certain extent in all of us, I believe.

Somehow, we have to fight through the obstacles, and remember it all starts with one – one teacher taking one first step in one project or lesson with one new thing, and then keeping on by taking one step at a time. Even when that step feels like the one Indiana Jones took in “The Last Crusade”, where that first step required faith in what he couldn’t see, yet once taken, the path became very clear.

Maybe we just need Indy’s hat…


July 23, 2007 Posted by | Education, Professional Development, Social Networking, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Losing The Battle, Not Just The Boys?

I sent this article from the 2/25/2007 Wichita Eagle to Scott McLeod (Dangerously Irrelevant), and I agree with his sentiment that it is just as much about engagement as it is about boys. And we need to make sure we are engaging the girls, too, because we can’t just presume that ALL girls will approach their education with eagerness.

Taking an active part of one’s education is a huge element in success, and how do we expect our young people to be competitive in a rapidly changing, interaction/communication drive, and innovation oriented world with our current focus on “drill and kill” for those oh so boring but oh so important (at least in the government’s eyes) multiple choice standarized tests? We actually probably are getting our students to perform better on these tests, but at what price? Love of learning? Lots of creative and innovative “outside the box” thinking? Passion for something you really are interested in? Perhaps we could strive for a society like the one in Harrison Bergeron where the goal is to be completely and utterly average.

Would the reality of what NCLB has become in our schools have been the recipe for getting us to the moon if this were the early 1960s? Yes, we need to help those students that struggle, but we ALSO need to make sure we push the middle and top end students to their fullest potential and not let them wallow and settle for just being good when their potential is higher.

How? We could continue to push the envelope that Web 2.0 allows us to push more easily. A place where everyone can participate in the discussion whether face to face or virtual, where everyone has the opportunity to have their voice be heard, where collaboration and teamwork are the norm, and hopefully where the joy and energy of learning thrive and develop. Oh sure we will still have to do assessments (but maybe in a different way) and we will still have to have many of the tried and true ways of “doing school” still take place, but if we can continue to incorporate the power of Web 2.0 into more of how we “do school” we can help our youngsters be better prepared for a real world THEY ALREADY LIVE IN. Personally, I’d rather they explore that world with guidance from those of us who have been around the block a few times, even if we don’t totally get all the technical stuff.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Education, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

OK, Its Been Awhile…

Wow, is my new job busy! Not only a lot to do, but the learning curve is steep! I have learned so much about the world of data in eduation, but have so far to go. There really is tremendous power in making use of data, but it is critical to get past just looking at the information. From there, you have to make the brave step into changing something – it might work, it might not, but if the data tells us students haven’t learned something yet, we need to reteach in a different way. And for this to be really effective, we have to work together with our colleagues. We cannot be hermit educators in our classroom, because it runs the risk of the status quo becoming the norm. We have to be willing to get outside our comfort zone!

I sincerely will try to write more regularly than once every four months, and I hope that my work here is found to be useful to someone. Together we can make a difference!

December 9, 2006 Posted by | Data Driven Teaching, General Comments | Leave a comment

DOPA Is Well-Intentioned, But, Well, DOPEY

I’m going to share several links below on this topic, because its all more eloquent than I could come up with, but I will share the following thoughts.

First of all, I understand the desire to protect kids, but totally shutting things off isn’t going to solve the problem. Kids will still access social networking sites, on their own time, with little or no guidance from adults. In fact, telling kids (or adults) they can’t do something is often a guaranteed way to make them want to do said thing. Remember how well Prohibition worked? Yeah, that’s effective education.

Brian Crosby’s reprisal of a DOPA article he wrote earlier this summer hits the nail on the head – there are many things that we have or let our kids do that present a risk, but we EDUCATE them on how to do said activity responsibly. Read his article, it is terrific.

Wes Fryer has inquired at his church to consider taking a proactive measure at addressing the issue rather than sticking their fingers in their ears and using the “la la la I am not listening if I just say you can’t do it the problem will go away” method. If they do, bravo to them for DOING something rather than just SAYING something.

There is an anti-DOPA petition online called Save Your Space – thanks to David Warlick’s Two Cents Worth blog I spotted it. And Andy Carvin has set up DOPA Watch – an aggregator that will use Technorati and Goolge News to find items that refer to DOPA.

It is obvious that most of our legislators have no idea of the power of the interactive web with tools like blogging, social networking, and “older” methods such as message boards and such. I, in the very short time I have been a part of this world of active engagement, have not only found a place where I can converse and debate a myriad of topics (ranging from ed tech to college basketball), but also a place where I can give MY voice a pedastal. Don’t you think our students deserve a chance to find their voice in this way too? Wouldn’t you rather it be done in a way that provides them guidance?

If you are a parent and you have fears about this unfamiliar world, my suggestion is to get in that world, if for no other reason to check on what your kids might be doing or sharing (you might find you enjoy it, too). Far too many kids seem to think that posting to their MySpace or Xanga site is a private matter and that adults don’t “belong” there or won’t know enough to find what they are writing. Some seem to not totally get that publishing something on the web makes it available to the whole online world, which tells me they need GUIDANCE. They want to communicate in this cool new way, we need to make sure they get their sea legs and know how to handle themselves properly as good digital citizens in the transparency of the online world. Which, by the way, is a world they will live in for their entire adult lives. A world in which we are still in the Christopher Columbus stages, a vast unknown with risks to be sure, but also with riches of the imagination that we might hardly be able to fathom at this early, perhaps revolutionary, point in the information age.

July 31, 2006 Posted by | DOPA, Legislation, Social Networking | Leave a comment

MTI2006 : CohortMax

CohortMax: Using Excel to Facilitate School-Based Test Score Analysis

Intent is to have data be more rapidly usable in the school.

Number of total tests taken in student life cycle is increasing dramatically.

BV uses 7 demographic variables, 25 MAP variables, and numerous KSA varialbes to cull when exporting data from SPSS to Excel.

To handle overflow of variables in Excel BV Data Team: after MAP in grade 6 they keep one worksheet with key data (last 4 iterations of MAP and last 2 iterations of KSA in order to see back at least a couple years in time with the student data).

See PPT for flowchart of tasks in constructing and continuing CohortMax files.

Always make sure you make a backup file and then make a copy to have as the “for use” file.

Use Excel sort features to analyze highest and lowest scoring students on a particular variable, for example. If you make a “for use” copy, you can also strip out the unused variable columns to show only the pertinent data. Great for getting specific data for an individual teacher or department. By using a mix of ascending and descending sorts, you can get a sensitivity analysis to see students with major discrepancies that are enlightening. Use average on columns to see which area that the group as a whole has the most difficulty. Using count features, you can generate graphs based on “segments” in the group, such as low, mid, hi.

Presenter: Bernard Schuster of the Blue Valley Schools

July 28, 2006 Posted by | Conference Blogging | Leave a comment

MTI2006 : The Interactive Web

RSS: Real Simply Syndication

Setting up a whole bunch of new accounts is fun! I now have a Bloglines account in addition to my existing account. Lets get it started!

Bloglines is pretty handy for aggregating pretty much anything with RSS even though its called “Blog”lines.

Bloglines has a place to search for feeds. I searched for “mti2006” and it picked up the pbwiki right away. is great for storing and sharing bookmarks. Lots of extra tools available. Check into lazybase for data work!

Presenter: Rod Tolle from ESSDACK

July 28, 2006 Posted by | Conference Blogging | Leave a comment

MTI 2006 : Future City Competition & Wikis In The Classroom (Mini Sessions)

Future City Competition

Brad presented a quick summary of the Future City Competition. This is a great activity for students to not only have the fun of building a city using SimCity 3000, but also learn about dedication and teamwork by also having to create written materials, a 3D model of an aspect of their city, and present the entire project to a team of judges. There are various deadlines throughout the fall, with the actual state competition event taking place in January at Kansas State University.

Presenter: Brad Shores of Parsons Brinkerhoff Engineering in Wichita, Kansas

Using Wikis For Collaboration

Challenges of Collaboration

  • takes time
  • tracking details
  • competitive parties in the group
  • unintentional duplication
  • conflicts
  • momentum/participation

Wikis run from a globally accessible web based server with tracking history.

WSU COE put together a CTRE workshop on wikis, blogs, etc. to help launch into using these tools.

Wikis can be set up on your own server or you can use already available sites like wikispaces or edublog.

The immediacy of publishing what you write makes you think differently about your writing and what can happen to it.

Session presentation at

Presenters: Julie Bath and Karen Reynolds of the Wichita State University College of Education

July 28, 2006 Posted by | Conference Blogging | 1 Comment

MTI2006 : Standardized Test Cohort Analysis

Cohort: a relatively fixed year-group of students that moved through the grades together (Survivors, Newcomers, Attrition, Phantom)

Z Score: a reference point that is a benchmark calculated from national data – allows for better comparison of how group is doing compared to national norm

See PPT for the Cohort Rule of Thumb on Diffences/Effect Size

Keep in mind implication of releasing specific school data district-wide – perhaps go w/school vs. district average

Cohort analysis allows for interesting comparisons of data between groups incl. comparing groups separated by several years

Cohort works best w/SPSS

Presenter: Bernard Schuster of the Blue Valley Schools

July 28, 2006 Posted by | Conference Blogging | Leave a comment