Alan November–NECC 2007 Notes

July 1, 2007

Expanding Boundaries of Learning: Designing Rigorous and Globally Connected Assignments

Alan November

Recording of presentation

Location: GWCC Murphy 1 Tag: n07s722


Questions by Alan


  1. Have you traveled outside U.S.

    1. Yes

  2. Will you students compete globally?

    1. Yes

  3. Do you students connection w/ others outside U.S.?

    1. Yes

  4. Do you students have a global work ethic?

    1. No

  5. Have you been to a presentation by someone not from U.S.?

    1. Yes/no

  6. Web 2.0 tools blocked

    1. Majority block 3

  7. Who currently owns the learning?

    1. 38 government

    2. 26 teachers

  8. Who should own the learning?

    1. 95 students



Shares idea that students should own learning.

  • Not a technology issue

  • Question is global work ethic

Brother MIT educated engineer

  • Team is now in shanghai

  • Once he is done training unsure what to do

  • Not motivated to work on own, organization dependent not self directed

  • Culture of school is dependent on students to be managed

  • Should reverse dependency to interdependence

  • Daughter’s graduation speaker said students ready to conquer the world

  • Alan states student able to but only ready to take courses


To create students who control learning teacher must create authentic audience

  • Research says students need instant feedback

    • Students recording poems needed second takes

    • Not happy with first recording

  • Students need global, not paper, voice

    • Students need to be taught courage with their voice

  • Teacher from Maine, Bob Sprinkle 3rd grade

    • Every Mon producer review of academic matter from previous week

    • Jobs: writer, reader, producer, actor

    • Kids rotate

    • Evolved into math corner, writing show, everyone wanted their own show

      • Student show work ethic

      • Must know content to create show

    • Teachers do not need to know how to podcast, kids will do this

    • Teachers need to know when and what to podcast

Marco Torres

  • Video produced by former students who graduated already

  • Students realize the need for a change in the system

    • Technology allows students to be with teachers

    • Teachers are not ready to hand over classroom


Teaching in a prison school

  • Student motived by real problems

  • Motivated those who do not want to learn

Teaching American history in Lexington

  • Should we teach American version or British version

  • If you confront people with a version of the truth they do not know they interact

  • Have students find this information

  • Textbook limits this information

  • Allows students to build curriculum and build research skills

Great Gatsby

  • One version read across the world

  • How do those outside the US view the work?

  • Then you can fully understand impact of book

  • Students own learning when they bring in the assignments to complete rather than given assignment


Do not need technology integration team, rather global integration team



  • Read essays by student in Japan written in English

  • Need to understand views of others

  • Can hold debate via Skype

  • Class debate or debate b/w two cultures: which is more authentic?


Searching for authentic audience

  • Need to understand how to search properly

  • Using country code when searching



  • Underestimated ability of students

    • Need job and can create podcasts

  • Need for global audience

    • Fill iTunes will content rather than block it

  • Need global interaction

    • Skype groups

    • Ability to receive comments from audience listening

  • This will allow for boundaries to go beyond time and space

  • RSS will allow for control to shift to students while viewing results

The importance of diction: Why RSS is important and Why I hate the media

April 9, 2007

So in trying to take advantage of the Easter weekend and a couple of days away from the classroom I am trying to catch up on some current event reading. A side note, completely off topic, we have a couple of extra days because of not using our bad weather days and I saw snow flurries while I was cleaning up my yard. I live in Texas and it is April here. Anyway, in reading my current events I started with those I have most recently neglected. One of the reasons why I like using my Netvibes account and RSS subscriptions when reading the news is so I can compare what different media outlets deem is important and how they express this news. In read the lists of education articles one from CNN stood out first. The head line read “Study: No benefit going high-tech for math and reading”. As someone interested in promoting the benefits of technology in education I immediately stopped my browsing to read the article. To the credit of the unknown AP writer, the source of the study and unbiased reporting on the study appeared in the article. Unfortunately the headline completely misrepresented the study. One lesson my statistics professor at KU, Prof Mark Joslyn, ingrained in my undergraduate studies was to look beyond the simple numbers. Always keeping that lesson in mind I looked up the study referenced in the article.

In reading the executive summary the first item that struck me was the lack of the use of the word “benefit.” Now remember the AP writer’s headline says “no benefit” exists. However, the executive report does not use that word once. I know what you are saying, “it must be in the full report, but I do not have time to read the full report.” Neither do I, but Adobe has a great search tool and by using this tool I was able to locate the one time that the full report uses the word benefit. This use is only to note the “benefit” of an end of year exam in assessing subject matter. So now I began to wonder if the AP writer even read this report.

Giving the AP writer the benefit of the doubt, I suspended my knowledge of this search and assumed that the AP writer lacks proper vocabulary skills that comes with reading and also does not know another word for benefit. In continuing to feed my curiosity I read the executive summary. In reading I kept noticing that the report notes that no statistical change resulted after one year on using educational software. Then I realized the CNN article cites that the “effectiveness of education technology” was the focus of the study. So I re-read the report by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance and realized that the report does not evaluate educational technology, rather educational software. Again, I gave the AP reporter some slack on vocabulary usage. After all viewers of the NBC series Friends will recall when Joey went crazy with the thesaurus button and boasted about Chandler and Monica’s full-sized aortic pumps.

Unfortunately for the AP writer the bubble holding my leniency burst when I got to the page outlining the Summary of the Study. Item three notes a clear benefit of such software. In bold print it says, “When Products Were Being Used, Students Were More Likely to Engage in Individual Practice and Teachers Were More Likely to Facilitate Student Learning Rather Than Lecture.” Seriously? Could this be a benefit the AP writer clearly stated does not exist. You mean a study by an organization who’s mission is to evaluate educational statistics and “encourage evidence-based approach to education”, as noted on the NCEE’s brochure, says that educational software does not decrease test scores, but rather increases individual learning and some schmuck from the AP wire who does not even get to cite his or her name does not see this as a benefit.

It is too bad that this writer grew-up up prior to the availability of such software, because maybe then he or she would have developed a better vocabulary and maybe would have learned how to work individually rather than rely on what someone tells him or her to be fact.

On a side note, the Washington Post also reported on this study and did a better job of using vocabulary. However, this article briefly mentions the note of individualized learning and it fails to mention the name of the study or the organization responsibly for it. I do not count citing the DOE since technically the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance which is a subset of the Institute of Education Sciences which is a subset of the DOE. The focus of this article appears to be less on the benefits or the outcome of the study and more on the possible corruption and waste of money by school districts. I have an idea, stop by my classroom and I can demonstrate the benefits of technology and I will not waste the money spent on this study.

Feel free to leave your comment on this posting. I wish I could say you could do the same to the AP writer, but no such ability exists on CNN’s webpage.

Keeping up with RSS

June 6, 2006


This is the first posting for the Final Curve.  I am designing this site as a way to share with teachers and other educators my ideas and experiences with various technology.  In future posting I will describe the activities I conducted in my classroom using blogs, wiki, podcasts and a variety of other emerging technologies.  I will also describe my choice of title; for now I will say that I took the title from a Langston Hughes poem.


The first thing I will say about this second generation of the web is that there is a lot of information.  In a search this morning using Technorati I found the listing of 2601 blogs about education.  With all of the great educational blogs alone, how does one keep up with all of the new information?  The simple answer is that you cannot.  However; you can create a single page to retrieve most of the information you read daily.  Introducing RSS.


RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a web feed that allows anyone to subscribe to specific pages.  It is similar to the e-mails that fill the inboxes of many people everyday.  The main difference is that the articles and stories sit on a webpage rather than fill up my inbox.  To begin, you need an aggregator to sort the RSS feeds.  Two of the more popular aggregators are Netvibes, to which I personally subscribe, and Bloglines.  Once you have created an aggregator account simple locate the RSS or XML icon on your favorite blogs and other news sources.  The icons look like the orange tabs below:
 RSS         XML


Copy the short cut and add the feed to you account.  Soon you will be logging in an staring at 400 new articles waiting for your eyes.  

Enjoy your start into web 2.0.  Be careful, it is more addicting that the previous  generation of the web.