Tuesday, June 25, 2002

At Training 2002, held in Atlanta in February, I attended two sessions by M. David Merrill. Dr. Merrill told us that he is a great fan of Howard Gardner. I bring this up because my recent travels on the 'net have taken me to Dr. Gardner's site. His AN EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE: The Foundation of Science and Values seems especially pertinent to me as I look for ways to engender online self-organizing social systems (OSOSS) for knowledge building.

I also heard Merrill say that he considered Dr. David Wiley's concept of OSOSS (Wiley and Edwards 2002) as pooled ignorance. While there may not be much to show for efforts just yet, the authors recognize that their model requires a "critical mass" and:
We see the prime areas for future research in OSOSS as twofold: more thorough ethnographic and discourse studies of existing OSOSS, including grounded theory studies that could guide the creation of software infrastructures to facilitate the development of these communities, and studies of ways around the weaknesses in OSOSS. The main obstacle to this research will be the large numbers of participants necessary for self-organization to occur, but the promise of the OSOSS approach merits the effort on the part of researchers. 1

I've proposed the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO), an OSOSS-based learning and teaching strategy for the employees, customers and clients of SMART Technologies Inc. My hope is the model will provide a way for interested parties to engage with others and ultimately become one of the "large numbers of participants necessary for self-organization to occur."

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Last week I was in San Antonio to conduct a SMART board TM interactive whiteboard Master's training session and work the SMART Technologies Inc. booth @ the "National Educational Computing Conference". The Nexus in Texas was a blast.

This conference presented an opportunity to "preach to the converted." The attendees I encountered on the show floor "got it." It was nice to hear the interesting stuff our customers are doing with RoomwareTM. These technologically proficient customers presented challenging questions, which are always welcome. There's a kick to be had helping customers use our hardware and software in creative ways.

On the way to the airport on Thursday, I had the good fortune to be able to spend a few hours visiting the Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio.

Man, what a facility! It's packed with people and resources with the expressed aim of providing service and support to educators.

My "behind the scenes" was conducted by Dr. Eddyth Worley. Dr. Worley is a dynamic and engaging individual who had us in stitches throughout.

The tour itself featured:
  • "modular" meeting rooms
  • state of the art computers -- labs, mainframes and networks
  • full television studios
  • the nation's second largest producer (behind the federal government) of Braille
  • supplies and facilities for preparing teaching materials
  • a greenhouse
  • a "lending library" for amphibians and reptiles
I remain very impressed. I've never seen anything like it. This link provides a little background on Dr. Worley's work.