Archive | June, 2010

ISTE 2010 – Some early takes on the opening keynote (and on conference attendees’ behavior)

Here are some excerpts from blog posts about last night’s opening keynote by Jean-François Rischard for the ISTE conference

Joanna Bobiash:

The keynote was disappointing. It did nothing a keynote was suppose to do. The speaker only depressed us with the world ending in 20 years and making fun of government. His slides were only words and hard to read in a huge theater. There was no energy or inspiration that came out of this speech. The audience was too polite (for the most part) not to leave and many had trouble staying awake.

Joe Bires:

The ISTE keynote was certainly a case of failed execution (were there any pictures at all and could anyone read that text?). The purpose of an opening keynote is like a leadoff hitter in baseball; to get on base and start something.  He started nothing, except to dampen expectations.  However ultimately it isn’t his fault it’s ISTE’s, you have to have the right person in the lineup at the right time and he just isn’t a motivating opening speaker.

Kevin Bushweller:

The speech was heavy on the global big picture, with charts, diagrams, and lists on a large screen on the stage, but there were not a lot of specifics about how education, and more specifically, educational technology would help solve those problems.

Erik Hilton:

Speaking of old methods, let’s talk about the keynote with Jean François Rischard. I am sure that somewhere in all of those  Power Point slides was a message.  However, I missed it because it was simply not at all engaging.  I was sitting at the Blogger area and I enjoyed the heckling from them much more than I enjoyed the presentation.  It was a strange thing to be sitting in a group of innovators and people who are working in the system, looking for ways to bring it into the 21st century, while the keynote speaker was droning on with an incomprehensible Power Point presentation.  It was an interesting irony, to have the keynote speaker at a conference that seems to showcase innovation and new technology tuned out because it was, well I’ll just say it, a boring presentation.

And here are some Twitter responses…

Ross Rogers:


Michael Richards:


Finally, David Wees, Ryan Berardi, and Peter McAsh asked if perhaps the audience’s reactions were overdone, too harsh, or should have been directed more privately to ISTE rather than blogged and Tweeted publicly…

Ryan Berardi:


Peter McAsh:


David Wees:

This year’s keynote was awful.  The way the presenter talked, the disconnect between what he talked about and what most of us are here for, and the use of his PowerPoint slides was just horrendous.  Here’s a mindmap, created by @dwarlick (click on it to open the full image in a new window). . . . I’d like to say that the response from the audience, while probably accurately describing his presentation, was a bit harsh.  Maybe people on Twitter on the #ISTE10 channel were expressing concern about their own presentations tomorrow.  My recommendation to them, don’t follow #ISTE10 during or shortly after your presentation if you have any self-esteem at all and want to keep it.  I’d love to have seen a few more supportive folks, but the typical crowd mentality of “okay he’s down now let’s jump on him” cropped up yet again and pretty much everyone was negative.  Let’s try and avoid this kind of negativity for each other’s presentations in the next few days, shall we?

Any other thoughts regarding the opening keynote speaker? Are David and Ryan right? Are we creating an environment at ISTE that’s too tough on presenters?

ISTE 2010 – Pictures from Edubloggercon

Two pictures of the Edubloggercon group this year at the ISTE conference (Henry was our youngest participant):

2010 ISTE Edubloggercon Group Picture 1

The folks who weren’t able to make the first picture (aka the “straggler group”):

2010 ISTE Edubloggercon Group Picture 2

More pictures are on Flickr at the ebc10 tag and/or the iste10 tag and/or the ISTE10 Flickr group.

ISTE 2010 – Backchannel code of conduct

iste2010logoFor its upcoming conference, ISTE has put forth its “backchannel code of conduct.” In short, it reads:

  1. Be nice
  2. Be clear
  3. Be open

There are more details, but that’s the short summary. Sounds pretty good to me.

What do you think? Is there anything that you’d add to the list? Is it a good idea for ISTE to have a code of conduct for the backchannel?

ISTE 2010 – Do you have a plan? Here’s mine…

iste2010logoI head to Denver tomorrow, eager and excited for the ISTE conference. I’ve got a plan this year; there are some things I want to learn and some conversations I want to have…

Things for which I’m scheduled

Things I hope will happen (if you can help with any of these, please come say hi!)

  • Have my usual rockin’ awesome time at Edubloggercon. Some of my best conversations and learning each year are here.
  • Faciliate our proposed discussion at Edubloggercon. Sylvia Martinez and I are proposing a conversation about the challenges of being an outside speaker/consultant. I don’t know if we’ll make the final agenda but I hope so!
  • Learn more about Google Voice. I need someone to help me get the most out of my new phone service.
  • Learn more about Google Apps for Education. I’m interested in talking with educators who are using this well with students in their school organization.
  • Learn more about the School of One. I’d love to talk with someone who’s seen it in action!
  • Learn more about robust learning software that does a good job of working with students at higher cognitive levels. These may be more like simulations or video games than traditional computer-based learning programs? Can I find software that’s doing performance assessment, not just fact assessment?
  • Learn more about essay grading software. I’d like to see how this software class has changed since last time I looked at it.
  • Maybe find funding for some CASTLE projects? This may be what draws me into the vendor area. I need to talk to some larger companies about some potential project sponsorship opportunities.
  • Learn new things that aren’t even on my radar. This usually happens a great deal for me, so I’m not too worried. Maybe I’ll pick up some tricks/tips for my new iPad!

Other thoughts

I’m deliberately leaving much of the conference open. I want to reserve space for spur-of-the-moment conversations and serendipitous interactions. If you want to chat – even if we’ve never met before – please come introduce yourself!

Trying to reach me at the conference? Try @mcleod on Twitter or call/text me at 707–722–7853. I’ll also be hanging out a lot in the Bloggers’ Café.

What’s your plan for the ISTE conference? Hope to see you there!

Video – Melissa (Feilmeier) Osborn’s autoethnography

My colleague, Dr. Tyson Marsh, has our Educational Administration graduate students doing autoethnographies. Melissa (Feilmeier) Osborn just finished her Master’s program with us as part of our Atlantic, Iowa cohort. Below is the video she made, which was her first experience using iMovie.

As Marco Torres and others show us, the power of video to capture student voice is pretty compelling. Most schools aren’t doing nearly as much as they could to harness this power for academic and student engagement purposes.

I think Melissa’s story is pretty compelling. If you have time, watch the video (it starts a smidge slow but ends big!). Happy viewing! 

ISTE 2010 – Can you ever really know that edublogger beside you?

writeintoexistenceOn the Internet, we write ourselves into existence.

That’s a wonderful thing. It allows us to reach audiences that we otherwise wouldn’t reach. It allows us to try on personas – and perhaps to reinvent ourselves – in ways that may be difficult in our everyday, face-to-face interactions.

But it also can be misleading.

Several recent incidents have caused me to revise some of my pre-existing beliefs about a few fairly prominent education bloggers. I now think and feel differently about them than I did just a few months ago, simply because I now have more information and thus a more complete picture of who they are.

I’ve been thinking about this as I get ready to head to the ISTE conference later this week. I won’t necessarily be wary as I interact with my edublogger peers, but I may be just a little less willing to accept things as they appear on their face. Not much, just a tiny bit. Most of the time people are as they appear – face-to-face or online – and I’d rather be a naive, trusting optimist than a negative, surly skeptic. But we have to recognize that we all also have secrets, ones that may remain uncovered because of geographic and/or interactional distance.

That edublogger who’s active in Twitter every evening and has a bunch of followers? He seems cool but maybe he beats his kids.

That edublogger with 20,000 subscribers and a heart of gold online? She seems great but maybe she’s cheating on her spouse. Or a cutter.

That charming, effervescently cheery and witty edublogger that everyone loves to hang out with at the conference? He seems wonderful but maybe he’s embezzling funds. Or a kleptomaniac. Or a drunk driver.

As you head to the ISTE conference later this week, or simply interact with folks online, I leave you with the thought:

Can you ever really know that edublogger beside you?

Update: I’m not as pessimistic as this may read. I’m just thinking out loud here…

Image credit: In order to exist online we must write ourselves into being

Free book (and e-books) from Jeff Utecht [LIMITED TIME OFFER]

ReachJeff Utecht is offering a free copy of his new book, Reach, until Friday, June 18. After then you can purchase a PDF or paper copy at a very affordable price (which is what I did because I want to encourage him to do more of this!).

You also should check out Jeff’s free e-books: Blogs as Web-Based Portfolios and Planning for 21st Century Technologies in Schools.

Jeff’s new book campaign illustrates that the Web makes it easy for us to share resources and gain visibility for our efforts. This is a wonderful (and previously unimaginable) thing. As Seth Godin notes:

Ideas that spread, win.

[and e-books are a great way to do this]

Is your school organization teaching its students to be EMPOWERED (not just safe, responsible, and appropriate) users of our new information landscape? Or is it still pretending that being findable on the Web – as an individual / company / agency / charity / NGO / etc. – is less important than, say, mastering those soon-to-be-forgotten fact nuggets?

Tools for school – Digital document annotation on an iPad, iPod Touch, or laptop

[FYI, this post also has been translated into Croatian by the WHGeeks Science section!]

[Warning: this is a long post. Cross-posted at LeaderTalk.]

I’ve been playing around with digital document annotation on various portable computing devices. Here is an overview of where I am right now…

The old way!

First of all, just as a reminder, the image below is the way that we’ve traditionally annotated ink on paper. Some of you like to use pencils or pens to underline, write notes in the margins, etc. In my life I’ve spent a small fortune on yellow highlighters.


Kindle App for the iPad

Will Richardson got me thinking with his post on using the Kindle app, his iPhone, and Evernote together for document annotation and sharing. So I decided to try it myself with the Kindle app. I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPad and two iPod Touches.

Here is what it looks like when you press and hold on a word to begin your highlight (or note) in the Kindle app for the iPad:


Once the word is selected, you can push and drag on either of the dots to resize the selection and cover more text. Note that the magnifying box helps you see where you are.


Once you’ve got your text selected, you click on Highlight or Note and it gets saved with your document. Repeat as desired.

Kindle App for the iPod Touch (or iPhone)

The process is the same for the Kindle App for the iPod Touch (or iPhone). Here are two images that show you what it looks like on the smaller screen. Again, note the draggable dots as well as the magnifying box.


Kindle App for the PC

The Kindle App for the PC essentially works the same way. Use your mouse to click and drag, selecting the text you want in a highlight or note. When you’re done, select the option you want from the popup box. The gray text background then turns to yellow. See in the image below that the Notes & Marks button is selected at the top right, allowing me to see all of my notes and highlights in a scrollable list on the right.


Note: The text you select in the Kindle App for the PC is NOT copyable for future pasting into another document.

Your notes online: Why this is better than marking up ink on paper

So far, so good. The process basically works like a traditional highlighter. Every time I sync the Kindle app with Amazon’s server, my notes and highlights show up on all of my other devices too. I don’t have to lug multiple, heavy books around. I can just carry my ultralight laptop, my svelte iPad, or my pocket-size iPod Touch and have access to my reading and the accompanying highlights / notes.

As Will noted in his post, the beauty of all of this, however, is that Amazon also makes available a web site where you can see all of your Kindle notes and highlights. I can even see an aggregation of others’ highlights if I wish (which is pretty cool).


The text on the web site is selectable, which means you can copy and paste it into other applications. For example, you could put all of your highlights into a Word document, a blog post, or a note in Evernote. Will did the latter, and I’ll walk you through that process…

Using Evernote to publicly share your notes

Here’s what it looks like in Evernote if you just copy-and-paste directly into a new note:


If you clean it up first – using some judicious search-and-replace – then it can look more like this:


You can share your notes and highlights with others by making a public notebook (or tag) in Evernote. In the image below, I’ve right-clicked on the notebook I want to share and then selected Properties.


A popup box appears. Click on Sharing and collaboration options:


The Web version of Evernote launches and you get to choose if you want to share with individuals or the world at large:


If you start sharing with the world, you get a personalized URL to which you can send others (e.g., They can click on the appropriate note and see everything you’ve put in the now-public notebook. Pretty nifty!


Another alternative: iAnnotate PDF

In addition to doing what Will did, I’ve also been experimenting with the iAnnotate PDF app for the iPad. I wanted a way to edit dissertation drafts, online reports and white papers, and other documents in PDF format. Although the GoodReader app (and, maybe soon, the iBooks app?) works great for viewing PDF files, you can’t edit them within the app. I read good things about iAnnotate and decided to try it.

I had some initial trouble getting documents into iAnnotate. I finally figured out, however, that the best way to do it is to synchronize it with a DropBox folder. That works pretty well (for GoodReader too!). Once you open a PDF file within iAnnotate, you have a number of tools at your disposal, including the ability to highlight, underline, strike out text, draw freehand, and leave yourself a pop-up note:


Although iAnnotate doesn’t give you the option of synchronizing to a web page like the Kindle app does, it does let you e-mail your annotations (with or without the document). When the annotation summary is received as an e-mail, it looks like this:


That text is then selectable, which means you can cut and paste it into other applications. Managing documents within iAnnotate is very easy, just as it is for the Kindle apps.

Reflections and implications

Here are a few thoughts:

  • The possibilities of all of this for academic work are endless. I will use the Kindle app to read nonfiction books like Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus and capture the quotes and notes that I think are important. I’ll use iAnnotate PDF to do the same for those documents and research reports that I’m always digging up online. When my students send me their writing, I’ll quickly convert those documents to PDF and then be able to comfortably annotate anywhere on my iPad, without being tethered to my laptop or desktop computers. And so on…
  • I love having all of the text from a book or report that I think is important – and ONLY that text – in one place. It’s searchable, it’s editable, it’s MINE. No more flipping through pages trying to find something. No more using multiple bookmarks and Post-It flags. A quick search and the text I want is there.
  • It would be nice if you could cut and paste from the Kindle App (particularly the one for the PC) into other applications.
  • The Pogo Sketchup Stylus – a special stylus for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch – is worth every penny when it comes to annotation. Highlighting text – particularly on the iPad – is a breeze compared to using my (apparently too fat) finger because the stylus has a smaller surface area and thus is more precise.


  • As digital annotation and sharing tools continue to become more robust, it becomes much more feasible to use iPads and other mobile computing devices as replacements for books and textbooks.
  • Like Will, I may never buy a nonfiction book on paper again (unless I have to).
  • I like Will’s idea of getting notes off of the Amazon web page and into Evernote. If iAnnote or the iBooks app or other e-book readers and annotation tools also make available online or e-mail versions of highlights and notes, I’ll do the same for those too. That way I won’t have to worry about particular proprietary formats becoming obsolete. Now, if Evernote ever goes out of style, I’m in big trouble!

So this is where I am right now with all of this. Although digital annotation using these tools is not yet as smooth as I would like, I’m deriving a lot of benefit from the new capabilities that I do have.

How about you? How are you annotating digital documents on portable computing devices? Got any tips or suggestions?