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VIDEO: Blockbuster 2:00

If I told you I came here today to stand on this stage and say (or sing) [slide] the times, they are a changin', you'd say "So tell me something I don't already know!"  Right?  Let's admit that there's a new normal and spend some time looking at the specific ways that we can define this "New Normal."

There are two ways to do this presentation.  I am not a very linear person, but I can go linear if we need linear.  I've got a powerpoint [slide: powerpoint] ready in case I'm talking to a linear crowd.  Or if you've contracted powerpointitus [slide: deathbypowerpoint] then we can go off road a little bit and go non-linear.  So here's your choose-your-own-adventure for the morning: do you want linear or non-linear?

I need to set up some note-taking first.  This is something we can do more at the secondary level, where I teach.  I'm going to ask for 3 of you to take notes for all of you.  There's a token gift-card attached to the responsibility to help make it worthwhile, too.  I know that some of you are already good with Google Docs and for some of you it's not your strong suit yet.  But I've set up a Google Docs where three people can take notes for all of us, and we'll all have their notes in real time and afterward.  So if you are Google Docs fluent and you wouldn't mind trading your note-taking skills for a five-dollar gift card (and for the good of the order), could you raise your hand?  Actually go ahead and stand up if your hand is raised, and I'll get the instructions out to three of you.   

We need to face some facts, and that right soon.

First . . . Can I get feedback from the audience on this?  If you'll pull out your handy hi-def 5-point clickers, I'm going to have you vote on something, or some things.  Five-point clickers?  Five-point clickers!

How many of you have heard the term (from Marc Prensky) "digital immigrants and digital natives?"  That's an important concept to know, but I don't want to belabor it here if you know it.  If you know the term and know what it would take to be a digital native, show 5 fingers.  They really do think differently. 

We're dealing with a Generation Gap, [Slide: canyon, mind the gap] and they have a different version of what's normal.  Let me give you an example.  My second grader, Michael [Slide: Michael] will probably never physically rent a movie.  He'll never be visited by a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, and he may never even crack the spine of an encyclopedia.  David Pogue tells a funny story about the kid who was being shown the new elementary school and in the library part of the tour the librarian gestured to the shelf devoted to the encyclopedia.  The kid asked "What are all those books, anyway?" and when told that they were the encyclopedia, he grew wide-eyed and said "Whoa!  Someone printed out the whole thing?"  [Slide: kid wide eyed]

Before we go on, let me check back with our GoogleDoc-sians. 

My second grade son will never buy a land-line telephone, though I'm proud to say he's at least used one.  His friend came over to our house and thought the idea of a phone on the wall with a CORD [Slide: corded phone] was pretty COOL.  But she was confused when she picked it up and couldn't find a green button to start with!

He will never consult a yellow pages [Slide: DexKnows].  Not a physical one, anyway.  Every generation after him will have to have explanation for why there's a website by the name of  They'll think it's some kind of racist thing. 

Of course, whitepages themselves, even sites like, are a thing of the present but not of the future.  Question: How many of you know someone who, in the last year, canceled their landline service to move entirely to cell phones?  Have you seen SPOKEO?

He'll never buy a mouse [slide: mouse] and will only know from stories that mice once had roller-balls.  Those of you who have been around a while, aren't you glad we no longer have to have students check their mouse balls?  For you young-uns in the room, we used to have to have all the mice be flipped on their back at the end of class so we could see that the students hadn't run off with the balls.  Maybe this was just a middle school thing?  It was always with a bit of an internal groan that I'd hear other teachers say "Okay, guys, let's check your mouse balls," and I'd just wait for some clever student to recognize the double entendre. 

He'll never take a picture on a film camera [slide:camera] and in fact may never own a camera that is a SFD . . . a single-function device.  Like the wristwatch (no slide), which is a single-function device that teens today DO NOT USE.  I asked my class of high schoolers last month "Raise your hand if you're wearing a watch"  --Not a one.  Just curious . . . how many of us are wearing a watch?  Even back when I was a kid, I had the sense that watches shouldn't be single-function.  When I was 10, everyone knew that in the future, wristwatches would be THE multi-purpose device.  [Slide: Calculator wristwatch]  Not only would we have our calculators built in, but we had the sense that someday people would be using their wristwatch communicators.  Right?

Here's one for the geeks among us: though he'll create plenty of web-content, he'll never need to build a website with the help of ftp.  [Slide: Geek Alert].  For him, websites built in html with static content will be sort of a novelty--retro--and database-driven sites with dynamic content will be so normal that he won't know it was ever new and exciting.  .... And for the non geeks among us, he'll never know what it is to watch a weekly TV show that everyone watches on Thursday nights at 8 (seven central).

I recently got my degree in Instructional Technology.  [Slide: Digital learner] It was an online degree--I never met my teachers or classmates in person.  This one was a Masters, and when I did it several years ago online learning was still the domain of the very forward thinking.  Times have changed for distance learning at the university level, in fact, according to the Sloan Consortium's 2010 report, 5.6 million students participated in at least one web-based course in the fall of 2009, a gain of almost 1 million learners from the previous year.  A study of that magnitude can only study the past, but here's "the new normal" for my 2nd grader: he'll do less than half of his first college degree in face-2-face classrooms. 

In case you hear me telling you that face to face is not valuable, that's the wrong lesson to derive.  It's an all-too-common mistake, and that's led to some misunderstanding in more than one camp that's looking for future-clarity.  In life, relationships--people--are what count.  I think it's important for some instructional situations to be face to face.  You do too, the 600+ people here today.  You're in the right place, and your experience here in this conference is unavailable to the people watching the streaming video of this presentation.  Face time is valuable, but if you have to be limited on face time in the paradigm of new normality, don't waste it on instruction! 

Actually I have a video that would fit here... glad to go non-linear...

VIDEO: Not about the Classroom Anymore

There's a school-district in Oregon that put iPod touches into the hands of all its 5-6 graders.  Their paradigm changed that year, intentionally, and it changed in this way: Teachers taught into the iPods, students learned at home and came to school to do homework.  You can see the possibilities, right?  Who do I want in the classroom with my 2nd grader--someone who's really, really good at presenting the knowledge?  How about someone who loves kids (including mine) and can teach them how to play nice and take responsibility?  I'd love to see pedagogy shift toward "online education" but with face-2-face, relational classroom experiences. 

Where was I?  Not only will my Michael not attend college entirely f2f, but his new normal will not involve going to the bookstore to buy a physical textbook.  [Slide: Ban/Cancel Books] My son is 10 years from entering college as a full time student, (though the new normal is to begin garnering college credits before exiting high school), and by that point there can be no reasonable expectation that his textbooks will be printed out.  Did you hear Amazon's news a couple of weeks ago?  You may have heard Amazon announce in July of 2010 that they were selling more e-books than hardcover books.  Last month, however, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO,  announced that e-books are outselling both paperbacks and hardbacks.  We're looking at new normal.

We were reminded just 3 weeks ago about the limitations of books when 5 kids from my daughter's class were given the task of researching Botswana's economic activity.  Research is nothing new to my 4th grader, but in this case she needed 3 resources and only one could be from online.  Do you know how many books talk about Botswana's economy in our public library?  Not that many.  It still wouldn't have been a killer assignment if we'd known about it the day the assignment was given--we know enough that we'd have dropped everything to rush the library and get there first.  But no--we didn't hear about it until Friday night.  Saturday morning we went to the library and found what we feared: we were too late.  Children's section--wiped out.  Adults' section--gone. 

Now, I'm not one to declare the end of the book in its current form.  I am a reader in a family of readers and I have a bachelor's degree in English education.  I don't believe that the book will go the way of the scroll . . . have you seen the book helpdesk video?  It's great...

VID: Helpdesk 2:25

[Slide e-reader] Which brings us back to reader-technology.  What is the new normal?  What will normal be when these kids are in college?

So college technology.  I don't know what his device will look like.  We think iPads are so cool--how many of you have an iPad?  How many of you want an iPad if the price were right?  Any nooks in the room?  Kindles?  Other fun book-readers?  I got this [Slide: Lenovo] for $300 on Craigslist and I feel pretty good about it.  Touch Screen, full keyboard, reading books on it is fun, long battery life.  This is increasingly the "New Normal."  And by the time Michael gets to college it will be not "new normal" or even "normal" but old fashioned.

I have several video clips that I want to show you.  I love it that this is the beginning of the conference, because I really want to inspire conversations about "What is the new normal?"  If we get to talking in the lobby or at the pool, I'm likely to ask you "So, what do you see as the new normal?"  I think I'd just collapse with joy if I overheard one of you strike up a conversation with another of you on that topic.  Here's the first clip, from Maxed Out documentary.

Video: Learning Machine

Is that "Learning machine" the new normal of education?  Not so much, right?  But they're so sincere!  The concept of computerized, individualized learning never left us, though.  Here's Star Trek on planet Vulcan.

Video:  Star Trek

I've seen online learning and evaluation that, well it's still embryonic and I don't even think it will get there by the time my three kids are out of high school, but it works.  It's not hyper-3D and cool like the learning craters of Vulcan, but the computer teaches interactively with the student, evaluates which segments of instruction need to be retaught, and teaches again.  I've used a feature of some free digital-classroom software, in fact last month, to build an evaluation tool where I typed in all the possible right answers and instead of being faced with a multiple-guess exam, Moodle asked the students a question and they had to know and type in the correct answer.  It's a beautiful thing from the perspective of a secondary teacher, because it's easily scalable from a class of 30 out to a huge number of students.

Here's a video of a future vision involving elementary classrooms.  I think it's very cool . . . but going the wrong direction, and I want you to watch it and see what you think.  Did they hit on something that can or will define a new normality of education?  I'm going to have you turn to your neighbors to ask their opinions, and I'll ask for votes after that.

Video: NOT the future of education


Privacy: Spokeo

Electronics Generation, Digital Generation, Web Generation, Mobile Generation

Hand-me-down technology


Wisdom of Crowds--Crowdsourcing--Best Games

We're teaching in a digital landscape that we weren't prepared for.  The normal that our kids experience is different in many ways from the normal that we experienced. But there is hope.  You are in the right place, both physically (at this conference you'll change as you gain digital skills) and mentally/positionally.  You are positioned to learn.  You are subscribers to forward-thinking podcasts like Edutopia.  You'll find Google Reader for aggregating technology blogs.  Not to exaggerate, but you are the future of education.  Thank you for teaching kids like mine.  Be Great [Slide: Be Great]  Introduce yourself when you see me!    Enjoy the conference!