Archive | January, 2010

No early impacts on the NEA

Last month I gave an inspired presentation to the Board of Directors for the National Education Association (NEA), our nation’s largest teachers union. As you can see from the NEA’s latest poll of its members, apparently I didn’t have much impact on its thinking, at least at this early stage. There is absolutely no recognition in the survey of the dramatic technological and information-related changes that we’re experiencing. [sigh]


Something’s screwy with Feedburner?

According to Feedburner, here are the subscriber numbers for Dangerously Irrelevant for the past 7 days. Either Feedburner’s got a glitch in its monitoring/reporting or people are finally discovering my brilliance (it’s about time!). Anyone else seeing this?


School law feeds (and other resources) for Google Reader

This is the message that I just sent my Education Law and Ethics students (the two cohorts are in Des Moines and Mason City, Iowa). Thought I’d share here too…


Time to set up Google Reader!

1. Watch this video:

2. Go to Sign in with your new Gmail account info if need be. Once you’re in, click on the red ‘Add a subscription box’ (top left). Paste in the first URL below. Repeat for each of the remaining links on the list. When you’re done, you should have 13 ‘feeds’ in your subscription list (bottom left). Click on a specific feed name to see items from just that one. Click on ‘All items’ (top left) to see all 13 feeds mixed together.

3. My goodness, what have we done? Well, we’ve just saved you time by putting ten school law-related feeds into one place. Now you’ll be up to date on all of the latest school law news and you’ll only have to go to one location ( rather than thirteen! Try to visit Google Reader at least once or twice per week just to stay current.

4. Note that you can add other feeds to Google Reader too! For example…

5. Start looking for the letters ‘RSS’ and/or the little orange RSS symbol on web sites. Those tell you that you can add that site’s content to Google Reader, meaning one less place you have to visit separately on the Web. Use Google Reader to ease your personal, professional, and academic lives. See the attached file for ways you can supercharge your Google Reader experience!

6. Get in touch if you have questions / difficulty!

Google Reader Tips (click on image for larger version)


Does ASCD EDge have a chance?

I usually am pretty impressed with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). I find that its books typically are of high quality. One of the best conferences I ever attended was an ASCD conference. I am a long-time ASCD member, subscriber to its SmartBrief e-mail newsletter, and reader of its Educational Leadership magazine and Inservice blog and Twitter feed. In other words, ASCD does good work.

That said, I confess that I am a little skeptical about the long-term chances of ASCD’s new online community, ASCD EDge. As you can see below, it’s a very sophisticated and comprehensive site. The ASCD Web team clearly has put a lot of thought and effort into the community. But I am not sure that educators need another freestanding social networking space. I know that I already have trouble staying on top of the ones in which I’m currently enrolled (on a side note, there are WAY too many good Ning communities out there!). I know that others find it difficult to keep up as well.

The social networking dilemma: Use someone else’s service or build your own

The challenge for an organization like ASCD that wants to tap into the benefits of social networking for its members is that it has two options:

  1. Create a visible presence in someone else’s social network (e.g., a Facebook community), or
  2. Create its own social network.

ASCD has decided to go with Option 2. In order for ASCD EDge to be a success, ASCD has to persuade large numbers of people to spend time in its online space rather than one that appeals to both educators and non-educators. Personally, as much as I like ASCD, I’m pretty unlikely to put my status updates and blog posts and photos and videos and discussions in a place other than Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or some other more general space that has larger network effects. I’m guessing that most other folks will be hesitant as well, particularly if other educational organizations like NASSP, NAESP, and AASA, etc. decide they need to create their own proprietary social networks too.

I don’t know how many active EDge members ASCD needs to consider this community a success. It may be that it only needs a few hundred or thousand to justify the time and expense. If anyone call pull off a proprietary social network for educators, it’s likely to be ASCD. It will be an interesting experiment to watch over time and I hope that ASCD regularly reports out membership numbers, levels of activity, unique user visits, and other usage statistics.

Screenshots from ASCD EDge (click on images for larger versions)




I will close with one suggestion for ASCD, which is that it resets all subscription options (see, e.g., below) so that their default status is unchecked rather than checked. If we want to sign up for these communication channels, we will. Until then, ASCD should assume that we don’t want more unsolicited e-mail rather than that we do.


You need leverage (aka “Why I blog”)

Seth Godin says

If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.

I’ll be making this argument when it’s time for me to go up for promotion…

Hey, AERA! Most researchers are terrible presenters!

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), the world’s largest educational research organization, recently adopted some ‘important changes’ to improve the quality of its annual conference. As AERA notes, the purpose of the changes are to ‘enhance the quality of the Annual Meeting as a forum for communication and dissemination of new knowledge.’

Take a look at the document. Notice anything missing? I do. It’s any recognition whatsoever that the vast majority of the presentations are horrendously painful, characterized by terrible PowerPoint, boring monotone delivery, inadequate pacing, and a lack of emphasis on the needs of attendees rather than presenters.

If AERA is going to focus on improving the quality of its attendees’ conference experiences, shouldn’t it at least pay some attention to the elephant in the room, which is most researchers’ poor presenting skills?

Unemployment in Iowa

[Cross-posted at the Iowa 1to1 Network]

As the following chart illustrates, more Iowa workers were employed in May 2008 than in any other month in the past two years. Since then, Iowa has lost 65,700 jobs and gained 7,000, for an aggregate total of 58,700 jobs lost. The Construction and Manufacturing sectors represented about 20% of all of the jobs in Iowa in May 2008, but have represented nearly 60% of all the job losses since then. In other words, those two sectors are hemorrhaging jobs at a rate of about 3 times their representation in the state economy. Most other sectors’ losses have been roughly proportionate to their representation in the Iowa economy. Two sectors, Financial activities and insurance and Educational and health services, have actually seen employment gains since May 2008.

What implications do these data have for us as educational organizations?


[Click on image for larger version]

Transform the instructors first?

Here’s a short Twitter conversation that I had with Mary Zedeck on Wednesday:




I’ve been thinking about the question that I asked Mary. I wonder how many P-12 teachers or postsecondary faculty have had transformative experiences using technology. In other words, how many of them have personally intersected with some of the world-changing and paradigm-shifting possibilities that are out there? And for those who have, how many of them really understood what happened (i.e., how many recognized the bigger implications of the event that they personally experienced)?

Can we realistically expect educators who have not personally had (and understood) transformative technology experiences to create such experiences for their students? If not (and I’m guessing not), what implications does this have for our preservice and inservice training efforts?

ISTE 2010 keynote – Jeff Piontek named as winner

It’s been an interesting few months for ISTE’s 2010 conference keynote project. We have seen twists and turns (what happened to Kevin Honeycutt?), candidates such as Jeff Piontek that were surprising (at least to much of the edublogosphere), more than a wee bit of snarkiness, and, unfortunately, some allegations of vote rigging and some downright rudeness. All in all, it’s been very similar to a political election!

Well, it’s over. Jeff Piontek has been named as the winner. In many ways, I don’t envy him. Now the pressure is on him to deliver a keynote that appeals to the thousands of diverse personalities that will attend ISTE in Denver. In addition, he has to give what may be the most scrutinized ISTE keynote ever. From all accounts, it appears that he will rise admirably to the occasion.

As most of you know, I supported Chris Lehmann for this keynote process. I have no regrets that Jeff was named instead and am looking forward to his keynote (I don’t have anything against Jeff; I’ve never met him; I just know that Chris is great). He may be relatively unknown to the edublogosphere (and I, too, wish he was a more visible user of social media since he writes about and advocates for it), but by all accounts he’s a fantastic leader who’s doing amazing things for kids in his school organization. In the end, that’s all I wanted – for the keynote to affirm the importance of leadership and, if possible, to represent the administrators like Jeff and Chris that are creating the new future of P-12 schools.

I challenge those of us in the edublogosphere to leave our preconceptions at home. Jeff deserves an honest chance to win our hearts and our minds rather than us prejudging him before he even gets a chance to speak.

Thoughts on ISTE’s process

I’m still not sure how to think about ISTE’s process. During Round 2, when we were able to discuss candidates, Chris was the clear leader. During Round 3, when we were not able to discuss candidates, Jeff was the clear leader. What does that mean? I have absolutely no idea.

I know others have been critical, but I’m glad that ISTE took a leap and tried this keynote crowdsourcing project. I’ve enjoyed observing and writing about the experiment and intend to fully enjoy listening to Jeff this June. See you in Denver!