NECC 2007: Day One

OOOOOOhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I am in hog heaven today! I am having the time of life and it just keeps getting better. OK, I am going to breakdown my day starting with my first Concurrent Session at 8:30 A.M.:

  1. “Online Learning Tools 2007: Inspiring Examples, Expanding Opportunities, Promising Technology” with Maureen Yoder, Lesley University. I did not stay the entire time, but I was able to pick up a few tips and had a Cre8tiv Mind moment! I learned more about Second Life which I really have been interested in. If you are not familiar with it, please click on the link and check it out. It is a 3D environment where students can create avatars and visit different places…I will explain more later. She gave a great example: what if Sally Ride could meet Amelia Earhart in a virtual place…what would they say to each other?
  2. “Building An Educational Portal: A Single Stop for Learning Resources” with Thom Dunks from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. He discussed the software they use called: uPortal for building site. Open Source Java-based software. They have 2 Java programmers helping with the coding. This is a red flag as you may not be able to use uPortal without a Java programmer.Thom is director of Technology Services (12 in department) for the district.Why an Educational Portal?
    Research projects – most students will start with Google, but will it truly give us access to information the way they need it? Students may have the ability to decipher information from web addresses (.com, .edu, .org). Portal can also include subscription services such as unitedstreaming for videos and many other options that would not be available on a general Google search. Thom gave example of a Google search for Martin Luther King Jr., finding sites that seemed to be appropriate but he found is a white supremacy site! This is not the kind of information we want our students to have to sift through for information. Instead of this, teachers can add a bookmark for their students when necessary for projects…or in our district…just neTrekk it!Tour of Santa Cruz portal
    Good list of resources available and more information is posted on the NECC session listing. Login is available for free viewing of the Santa Cruz portal until the end of September, 2007. Go to http://www.santacruz.k12.ca.us > Click on ed1Stop > username: tdunk > password: edcruzEntire site is single-access, meaning one login gets users in to all services, with only a couple of exceptions (netTrekker, Gaggle, and RxNetWriter).

    Curriculum Resources tab includes services such as unitedstreaming, DigitalMath and NASA. Some are free and some are paid subscriptions. Research and Reference tab links to Grolier’s Encyclopedia, Dictionary, and links to free pictures, texts and AP multimedia resources. Teacher Resources tab is mostly California-based information, but the idea is to give teachers a resource for using technology and other standards information, etc. Administrator Resources tab for administrators also good for technology leaders with links to ISTE and information about CARET. TICAL link also has many great tools and resources. Parent Resources includes internet safety information, homework help links, and special needs information.

    Stage 2: students will have their own tab with information about courses, homework, and other information. They will use a regional server through the portal to Moodle. They originally used Blackboard but it was cost-prohibitive, so they’ve chosen Moodle as an Open Source solution.

    Stage 3: devoted to building professional learning opportunities: RSS, blogging, etc.

    Q: Talking about students “using teacher passwords” to access bookmarks. How does this work? A: Teacher logins are private, but they maintain bookmarks under a main “password’ that students can use, directly linked to the students’ logins.

    NOT a heavily encrypted password site, so should not be linking SIS or webmail passwords to this portal.

  3. “Special Focus Playground: Second Life & Virtual Worlds”: I was able to explore several different stations that showd how to create an avatar, navigate through Second Life, use it as professional development as well as how to use it with students. Students would be able to explore different places like NASA space rockets, the Discovery Network and even ISTE’s Virtual Island. This was an awesome display of Second Life! There is even a Moodle for Second Lifers called “SLOODLE”. Jennifer Wagner was very knowledgeable about Second Life. Email her if you want to talk to an expert: technospud@gmail.com and/or visit her websites at: http://www.technospud.com, http://www.technospudprojects.com, http://www.womenofweb2.com
  4. “Implementing a Statewide 21st Century Skills Initiative”: This session was the best by far. I was already familiar with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, but this session just made the notion even more appealing!  I have a lot more to say, but my eyes are burning…stay tuned

And last, but certainly not least was the Apple Leadership Soiree!  I felt so privileged just to be in attendance.  My husband and I met and conversed with some of the most profound people ever…just to name a few: Don and Maria Henderson, Kathi Fox, Karen Castor, Lucy Gray, Julene Reed (my girl!), Carol Anne and Bobby McGuire,  Kyle Peck, Marty Park, Jeanne Biddle, Camilla Gagliolo, Ted Lai, Gordon Shupe, Katherine Neil, Cheryl Lee, and Patricio from Apple in Mexico (forgive me for not remembering your last name…it is late Patricio and I should already be sleep) and of course…Ms. Adair Caperton!  The energy in this room was electric and I was just happy to be…there…and an ADE!  The decision-makers will never know what being a part of this special group of educators has done for my life.  I am just on cloud 9!

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