Crash on Highway One

I made it to Banff tonight. I’m here to present at CNIE. It has been a crazy trip.

On the way here, we were a minute behind a semi truck hitting a compact car, trapping two occupants, and it appeared that one person flew out into the ditch. We pulled over, ran to their assistance, called 911 (the semi driver didn’t have a cell phone), and using my GPS was actually able to tell emergency services pretty much exactly where it happened. It looked really grim at first, after seeing the car I figured there was no hope. I tried to comfort the victims in the car, telling them that help was on the way. Claudia got some blankets from the semi-driver and comforted the other woman in the ditch. About 20 minutes, a police car pulled up. I yelled at the officer to come down to the ditch. As he walked down into the water, he started talking to the people in the car. That’s when I noticed that the officer was a student that I had once taught as a preservice teacher (he became an RCMP officer after he got his B.Ed). In the insanity, we quickly recognized each other but didn’t talk about it until the ambulances arrived, and after I gave my statement. The whole incident … incredibly surreal.

I am thinking that everyone will be OK. The woman in the ditch had the worst injuries, but she received attention excellent attention when the paramedics arrived. I am so happy that help came soon.

Here is a photo I took after everyone was being cared for.

Crash on the Way to Calgary

So after all of this, on the way home, two things come to mind.
1) As much as I am enjoying the 3662008 project, and actually starting to think like a photographer in some ways, I couldn’t imagine being the photographer that takes photos of people while they suffer. Remember the fate of Kevin Carter?

2) As much as I tout online social networks, I have been having these really weird coincidences lately, meeting people on the road, in places where neither of us should logically be. In the last few months, I’ve had at least 5 experiences with old connections like this. What does this mean? It’s kind of freaking me out!

3) Hug your family … hard. In fact, my little girl is sleeping on my lap as I type this. Tragedy can happen at any moment, and we are lucky to have every second we can with our loved ones.

EC&I 831 – Voicethread Reflections

Hi everyone.
We have now completed the official EC&I 831 experience, and I am hoping to follow up with research around the course experience starting with some course reflections from students, and from anyone who has been affected by this course in any way (e.g., connected with students via blogs, participated in Elluminate/Skype/Ustream sessions, etc.).

I will be on the conference trail for the next while talking about my course, and I would LOVE to have your reactions to the course! Thanks so much for your time. I am really hoping that I have something to support the format of the course (open, transparent) and the learning experiences that occurred, both inside and outside of the formal pieces. Please help by contributing to this voicethread.

OLPC to Switch from Linux to Windows?

I have been quite critical of OLPC, but the one thing I really liked about the project was that they were using free and open source software as the operating system. If OLPC switches to Windows, I do not think I will have anything left nice to say.

One day after the resignation of the One Laptop Per Child project’s president was publicly revealed, the OLPC’s founder and chairman said that the group’s XO laptop may evolve to use only Windows XP as its operating system, with open-source educational applications such as the homegrown Sugar software running on top.

OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte also told The Associated Press on Tuesday that an insistence upon using only free, open-source software had hampered the XO’s usability and scared away potential adopters. (Link)

Re: OLPC, Negroponte is quoted as saying, “It’s an education project, not a laptop project.” When does commercialism and techno-colonialism become relevant here? At what point does “education” in this context become indoctrination?

Speak Up 2007 – Selected National Findings

Project Tomorrow has released its “Selected National Findings“, an analysis of data from online surveys, focus groups and interviews of parents, teachers, school leaders and students in the US. Project Tomorrow touts itself as “the nation’s leading education nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.”

These findings were particularly interesting to me.

Re: Filters (both technical and human) –

Students’ frustration with school filters and firewalls has grown since 2003, with 45% of middle and high school students saying now that these tools meant to protect them inhibit their learning. And since 2004 we have heard repeatedly and more strongly each year, students’ discontent with school rules that limit their access to technology at school and rules that prohibit them from using at school the very technology tools and devices that they use constantly outside of school (cell phones, email, IM, Text messaging) in all aspects of their lives. That discontent factor has grown by 46% over the past four years. The other major obstacle today is the teacher – over 40% of students in grades 6-12 cite their teacher as an obstacle since it is the teacher who increasingly is limiting the “when and where” of using technology at school.

Re: Personal Learning –

When asked how their school could make it easier for them to work electronically, almost 2/3rds of middle and high school students said “let me use my own laptop, cell phone or other mobile device at school.” 50% would like to be able to access their school work related software applications and projects from any computer in the school network and have unlimited Internet access on campus. Students also would like tools to help them communicate with their classmates (45%), their teachers (34%) and to organize their schoolwork (42%).

Re: Emerging Technologies –

Over 50% of students in grades 3-12 would like to see more educational gaming in their 21st century school; only 16% of teachers, 15% of administrators, and 19% of parents endorse that concept. While 53% of middle and high school students are excited about using mobile devices within learning, only 15% of school leaders support that idea. Less than half as many parents as students see a place for online
learning in the 21st century school. And even fewer teacher, parents and school leaders want students to have access to emails and IM accounts from school.

Re: Student-Directed Change –

As one high school student in a recent focus
group told us, his vision for the ultimate school is a school where the teachers and the principal actively seek and regularly include the ideas of students in discussions and planning for all aspects of education, not just about technology. As the student so eloquently said, “This is about our future after all. Our ideas should count, too.”

There are many familiar themes here, yet the same barriers exist. While it is great to see another report supporting much of what is written daily in my corner of the edublogosphere, I am looking forward to reading a report that describes the results of a project in an educational context where many of these barriers have already been addressed.

New Design High School

This is exciting! (via Paul)

New Design High appears to be a school where educators are implementing a bold vision that moves the context for learning beyond typical traditional boundaries. There is also evidence in the video to suggest that 21st century technology is being used appropriately and effectively to support learning and creativity. This is exactly as I believe technology ought to be used in all schools.

Bronx Student Discuss Obama, Politics, Race and Their Future

Regardless of your political views, I think that most caring, thoughtful humans should find something wonderful in the conversations by young, Bronx high school students.

This is a wonderful example of a teacher taking on the topic of race in his classroom. The students seem engaged and speak intelligently and thoughtfully on issues of race and politics.

Now, since this appears on the Obama08 Youtube channel, I am wondering about the behind-the-scenes editing, production, and whether or not this production was directly funded. In any case, the production is well done, and leaves the viewer with hope for the future.

Swiss Schools Dump Windows for Ubuntu

It is reported that 9000 PCs in Swiss schools will have Windows removed and become FOSS only computers.

Geneva newspaper Tribune de Geneve reports today that from September 2008 all computers at schools that currently are dual-boot MS Windows and Linux will have MS Windows removed and become FOSS (Free Open Source Software) only.

Besides lower costs for the administration, students will also profit from the use of Ubuntu, as they then will be able to use the same applications at home without additional cost.

Manuel Grandjean, director for the schools (Ecoles-Médias) IT services pointed out that the use of FOSS “…encourages participation and the democratization of knowledge and provides product independent competences…“. He also sees the use of FOSS as a “reinforcement of equal opportunities” for students.

More information here (French only).

Connections – ECI831 Presentations

I gave a short presentation in EC&I 831 tonight titled “connections”.

Slides are available below:

Ustream also available:Audio is available here.